Idaho Dram Shop Laws and Social Host Liability for Alcohol-Related Accidents

When an intoxicated person injures someone else in Idaho, can a third party be liable for providing the alcohol?

If you're injured by a person who's intoxicated in Idaho, you can seek compensation from that person by filing a lawsuit. And, in some situations, you can also seek compensation from the person or business that supplied the alcohol to the intoxicated person. Claims of this type against alcohol vendors like restaurants and bars are normally called "dram shop" claims, whereas similar claims against non-vendors are typically referred to as "social host liability" claims.

In this article, we'll look at the details of Idaho's dram shop and social host liability, including situations that may give rise to a dram shop or social host claim after an alcohol-related accident.

Idaho's Dram Shop Law

Idaho code section 23-808—Idaho's dram shop law—states that an alcohol vendor can be held liable for providing alcohol if:

  • the person who caused injury was under age 21 and the party who furnished the alcohol knew or should have known the person was under age 21, or
  • the person who caused injury was "obviously intoxicated" and the party who furnished the alcohol knew or should have known the person was obviously intoxicated.

Here is an example of Idaho's dram shop law in action. Suppose that on her way home from work, Dana stops at Tara's Tavern for a few drinks. Although she gradually becomes disoriented, slurs her speech, and has trouble staying on her barstool, the bartender continues to serve Dana alcohol. Finally, Dana stumbles out of the bar and tries to drive home. Halfway to her house, she hits Pamela, a pedestrian, in a crosswalk, injuring her.

Pamela can bring a personal injury claim against Dana for causing the accident. She can also bring a dram shop claim against Tara's Tavern based on the bar continuing to serve alcohol to Dana after she was obviously intoxicated.

Social Host Liability in Idaho

Idaho also allows civil injury claims to be brought against social hosts who provide alcohol to guests who are under age 21 or are obviously intoxicated. In other words, the same rules apply to alcohol vendors and non-vendors.

Here is an example of Idaho's social host liability in action. Suppose that, at a backyard barbecue hosted by her neighbor Helen, Minnie, a 19-year-old, accepts several drinks from her hostess. While dancing on the back deck with a drink in her hand, Minnie stumbles into Peter, knocking him off the edge of the deck and causing injuries.

Peter can bring a social host claim against Helen for providing alcohol to Minnie, who is under the legal drinking age (even if Minnie was not "obviously intoxicated" at the time of the accident).

Damages and Time Limits for Idaho Injury Claims

For the kinds of injury cases we've discussed here, personal injury damages might be available to compensate for a range of losses, including medical and hospital bills, lost wages due to time away from work, the lost value of household services or childcare the injured person would otherwise have performed, costs for property damage, and pain and suffering.

Idaho has a "notice period" for filing third-party injury claims for alcohol-related accidents. Generally, the injured plaintiff must give written notice to the vendor or social host of a potential claim within 180 days of the injury date. Once notice is given, the dram shop claim itself generally must be filed within two years of the date of injury under Idaho's statute of limitations. However, each case is different, so make sure to consult an attorney as soon as possible after suffering an injury to make sure your rights are protected.

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