SENATE, No. 2069

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

215th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED JUNE 14, 2012

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  DIANE B. ALLEN

District 7 (Burlington)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Prohibits certain drunk driver claims against licensed alcoholic beverage servers.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

 


An Act concerning the “New Jersey Licensed Alcoholic Beverage Server Fair Liability Act” and amending P.L.1987, c.152. 

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    Section 5 of P.L.1987, c.152 (C.2A:22A-5) is amended to read as follows: 

     5.    a.  A person who sustains personal injury or property damage as a result of the negligent service of alcoholic beverages by a licensed alcoholic beverage server may recover damages from a licensed alcoholic beverage server only if:

     (1)   The server is deemed negligent pursuant to subsection b. of this section; and

     (2)   The injury or damage was proximately caused by the negligent service of alcoholic beverages; and

     (3)   The injury or damage was a foreseeable consequence of the negligent service of alcoholic beverages.

     b.    A licensed alcoholic beverage server shall be deemed to have been negligent only when the server served a visibly intoxicated person, or served a minor, under circumstances where the server knew, or reasonably should have known, that the person served was a minor.

     c.     A person who becomes intoxicated and sustains personal injury or property damage as a result of the person’s actions while intoxicated shall be prohibited from instituting a civil action for damages against a licensed alcoholic beverage server.

     d.    A person who rides in a motor vehicle which the person knows is operated by an intoxicated person and who sustains personal injury or property damage as a result of a motor vehicle accident shall be prohibited from instituting a civil action for damages against a licensed alcoholic beverage server.

(cf: P.L.1987, c.152, s.5)

 

     2.    This act shall take effect on the first day of the fourth month after enactment.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill would prohibit intoxicated drivers who sustain personal injury or property damage as a result of their actions while intoxicated from instituting a civil action for damages against a person licensed to serve alcoholic beverages. 

     The bill also would prohibit a person who rides in a motor vehicle which the person knows is operated by an intoxicated person and who sustains personal injury or property damage as a result of a motor vehicle accident from instituting a civil action for damages against a person licensed to serve alcoholic beverages.

     The New Jersey Licensed Alcoholic Beverage Server Fair Liability Act, also known as the “dram shop” law, provides the exclusive remedy for persons who are injured due to the negligent serving of alcoholic beverages by licensed servers.  Under the dram shop law, servers are considered negligent if they serve alcoholic beverages to a visibly intoxicated person.  The dram shop law currently does not preclude an intoxicated driver from a claim against a server.

     However, a provision of the State’s motor vehicle code enacted after the dram shop law (section 14 of P.L.1985, c.520; C.39:6A-4.5), limits claims by drunk drivers.  Specifically, the motor vehicle provision bars persons convicted of, or who pled guilty to, drunk driving or refusal to take a breathalyzer test in connection with a motor vehicle accident from instituting a civil action “for recovery of economic or noneconomic loss sustained as a result of the accident.”

     The question of whether the motor vehicle provision bars a dram shop claim by a drunk driver was addressed in the recent decision of Voss v. Tranquilino, 2011 N.J. Lexis 621.  In that case, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that the motor vehicle provision did not bar a dram shop claim by an intoxicated driver because the Legislature did not explicitly repeal the dram shop law when it passed the motor vehicle provision and therefore, barring dram shop claims based on the motor vehicle provision would amount to an unjustified “repeal by implication.”

     This bill is intended to reverse the Voss decision by explicitly stating in the dram shop law that intoxicated drivers, as well as passengers who know they are driving with an intoxicated driver, are prohibited from bringing a dram shop claim against servers of alcoholic beverages.