Serving Booze in South Carolina? Better Be Insured for a Million.


In SC restaurants must pay up if their customers drink, drive, and injure someone.

In South Carolina restaurants must pay up if their customers drink, drive, and injure someone. A new liquor liability law makes sure they’re able to.

The problem is over-serving: restaurants and bars that keep on serving drinks to customers, regardless of how intoxicated they are, and not taking responsibility for the drinkers’ actions afterwards. Over-serving concerned State Senator Luke Rankin, who sponsored a bill which would require any establishment serving alcohol to carry a liability policy of at least $1 million.

The bill is now law.

A Bi-Partisan Bill to Enforce Accountability

The liquor liability bill, S 00009, had bi-partisan support, and support from relevant trade associations. The law also requires bars and restaurants to train their staff to recognize intoxication.

At the heart of the bill is accountability. A customer might ultimately be responsible for what he or she drinks, but we know from experience that alcohol degrades judgement. If a bar is serving drinks to the point at which a customer can no longer be trusted to make a smart decision, then the server must be held accountable as well, because the server is the last line of defense between the public and a drunk driver.

Being required to carry insurance also reminds the business owners of their responsibility – and their liability – should a customer drink and drive. Legislators hope that the law will make bartenders and waiters take a second look at customers before they serve another drink.  The stakes are high when alcohol and driving are involved. Putting a dollar figure on it might bring that fact home more vividly.