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Wilmington Attorney Richard Flexner Comments on Dram Shop Liability, Alcohol-Related Accidents in North Carolina

Recent news that a Raleigh couple would go to trial for providing alcohol to an 18-year old who then died while driving under the influence of alcohol should serve as a reminder to parents, guardians and party hosts that supplying alcohol to minors can result in severe accidents and serious legal issues, according to Wilmington attorney Richard Flexner.

Attorney Flexner, lead attorney at the Law Offices of Richard Flexner, based his comments on a WNCN article, "Son of Raleigh couple charged in deadly crash bought Jack Daniel's that day," published July 27. The article indicates that a trial is underway involving a couple who provided alcohol to minors at a June 2014 wedding reception before a teen attendee was involved in a fatal single-car accident.

"This ongoing case is a sobering reminder that while many parents or party hosts may not think twice about serving alcohol to a minor, there can be serious consequences," Flexner said. "Serving alcohol to minors is illegal, period. Not only can this result in somebody's child, friend or guest being involved in a serious accident by themselves or with other vehicles, but making the decision to do so can have very serious legal ramifications."

According to WNCN, the Raleigh couple was charged with aiding and abetting the consumption of alcohol by minors after an attendee was involved in a fatal accident after leaving the wedding reception. The teen, 18 year-old Johnathan Taylor, had a blood alcohol content of .20, two-and-a-half times the legal limit for adults in North Carolina, according to the article. The legal alcohol limit for adult drivers under 21 years old in North Carolina is zero.

The WNCN article also indicated that the couple's son pleaded guilty to one count of underage purchase of alcohol, a misdemeanor in North Carolina. Furthermore, according to the article, EMS workers had to be called to the scene of the reception after another underage guest passed out due to alcohol consumption.

Flexner said the tragic accident should serve as a warning to people of all ages that driving under the influence of alcohol can not only have tragic consequences, but that liability after an accident can include those who serve alcohol.

"Minors in North Carolina cannot purchase, possess or consume alcohol, and no driver should be behind the wheel under the influence of alcohol," Flexner said. "When a teen - or a driver of any age, for that matter - causes an accident, the people who serve them alcohol may also be liable for that accident. That includes liquor stores who serve a knowingly intoxicated customer, a bar who overserves a patron, or a party host who serves a minor."

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