New DUI liability bill goes into effect July 1 | News | The Press and Standard

by | June 30, 2017 11:59 am

Families across South Carolina have scored a big win with the passage of S.116, known as the Dram Shop bill. The new law goes into effect tomorrow (July 1st) leading into the July 4th holiday, when there is an increase in alcohol consumption and driving under the influence. The law requires alcohol-serving businesses or individuals to have liability insurance that could help assist victims who are wounded, paralyzed, or worse, due to alcohol-related crimes.

The Dram Shop legislation will be implemented almost three years to the day when City of Dillion police officer Jacob Richardson’s life was forever changed on July 6, 2014. That night, he responded to a call reporting a disturbance at a local nightclub. As he approached the bar, Officer Richardson was hit by a drunk driver who had been overserved by the nightclub, leaving him paralyzed and with permanent brain damage. The nightclub had no insurance and passed their liability onto the city. Dillion has since been forced to pay over $1 million for Officer Richardson’s medical care and expenses, while the nightclub has not paid a dime.

“Sadly, this common-sense requirement was not on the books in time to help Jacob and his family. Their tragic experience clearly shows how this new law will quite literally be a lifesaver for many families. It will also protect business owners who serve alcohol by prohibiting hidden alcohol exclusions of insurance coverage in the fine print of their policies. South Carolina is better today because the legislature recognized that sound public policy is holding folks accountable for their actions,” said SCAJ President Alex Cash.

The legislation garnered bipartisan support and was sponsored by Senators Luke Rankin (R-Horry) and Gerald Malloy (D-Darlington) and Rep. Bill Herbkersman (R-Bluffton), who filed the companion bill in the House.

Specifically, the bill requires that any business that renews or applies for an on-premise alcohol license from the South Carolina Department of Revenue that sells alcohol after 5 p.m. will be required to carry a minimum $1 million liquor liability policy. Until now, there was no such requirement in place, leaving victims of alcohol-related crimes with few options. The bill passed both the House and Senate with an overwhelming majority of votes.

SCAJ-past President Anthony “Tony” Harbin said, “This organization’s commitment to serving the public good has been inspiring. By joining together and working with legislators of both parties, we did what was right for the citizens of South Carolina. The new law is a proactive measure that will ultimately go a long way in making our state safer.”

The full bill can be viewed here at: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess122_2017-2018/bills/116.htm

About SCAJ

The South Carolina Association for Justice was founded in 1957 to serve as advocates for those who are harmed by the actions of others and to strengthen the justice system through education and action. With membership from all across South Carolina, SCAJ is a strong and growing organization fighting for fairness under the law. Visit SCAJ.com for more information on the Association.

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