NC Supreme Court To Look At Restaurant Liability In Drunk Driving

The state Supreme Court says it will review a case in which a woman says bars and restaurants should be held legally accountable if they allow intoxicated customers to drive.

State law says restaurants, bars and others who hold permits to sell alcohol must not sell the drinks to an obviously intoxicated person. But the law says nothing about holding the businesses liable if the person drives drunk, except in the case of underage drinkers.

Theresa Hall of Durham sued a Mexican restaurant after she was seriously injured and her husband was killed in a 1997 car accident caused by a man who had been drinking for hours and who registered a point-20, more than twice the legal limit.

A jury that heard her lawsuit said the restaurant should pay more than a million dollars for allowing the man to continue drinking and then drive away.

The verdict was overturned by a Superior Court judge, and that decision was upheld by the state Court of Appeals.