88 N.C. L. Rev. Addendum 22 (2010)
There is no doubt that drunken driving takes a terrible toll throughout North Carolina and the nation. Each year, some 11,773 people die on the nation's highways due to drunk-driving accidents. Over four hundred of those victims die in North Carolina. Unfortunately, many victims of drunken drivers have little legal recourse. Victims can pursue claims against drunken drivers who cause them harm, and many states have extended liability to social hosts or commercial vendors who provide or sell alcohol to those that they know or should know are intoxicated and plan to drive. Still, no state recognizes a cause of action against a bar that allows an obviously intoxicated person to drive.
Advocates of extending tort liability argue that creating a cause of action for bars that do not take affirmative steps to prevent intoxicated patrons from driving would make the nation's roadways safer. They correctly see the bar doors as the last line of defense for victims of a drunken driving tragedy. This Recent Development, however, offers a more effective way to get bar owners to join in the fight against drunken driving. Rather than holding bars liable for the subsequent actions of intoxicated patrons-a proposal that would fail to get bar owners to help in the battle to deter drunken driving- North Carolina should create targeted incentives to entice bars to proactively prevent intoxicated patrons from driving.