Prior to 1955 Washington had a “Dramshop Act” which provided a civil cause of action to injury victims who were injured by an intoxicated person against any person who, by providing intoxicating liquors, caused the intoxication. [1] In 1955, the Legislature repealed that act. [2]

Under current law [3] liability may not apply for serving apparently intoxicated persons, persons in a state of helplessness, or persons in a special relationship to the furnisher of intoxicants. [4] Whether a person is already intoxicated so that liability can be predicated upon the furnishing of additional intoxicants is determined according to the way the recipient appeared to other persons at that time of service, not by the results of a subsequent blood alcohol test performed much later. [5]

Also, providing liquor to minors in violation of state law may lead to liability unless seller takes reasonable precautions to determine whether the purchasers are of legal age. [6]

[1] Formerly RCW 4.24.100.

[2] Laws of 1955, ch. 372, 1, p. 1538.

[3] Halvorson v. Birchfield Boiler, Inc., 76 Wn.2d 759, 762, 458 P.2d 897 (1969), citing 30 Am. Jur. Intoxication Liquors 521 (1958). Accord, Hulse v. Driver, 11 Wn. App. 509, 512-14, 524 P.2d 255 (1974).

[4] Halvorson, at 762-63.

[5] Wilson v. Steinbach, 98 Wn.2d 434, 656 P.2d 1030(1982); Barrie v. Hosts of AM., Inc., 94 Wn.2d 640, 643 n.1, 618 P.2d 96 (1980); Shelby v. Keck, 85 Wn.2d 911, 915, 541 P.2d 365 (1975).

[6] Purchase v. Meyer, 108 Wn.2d 220, 737 P.2d 661 (1987).