Courts have long held that an adult who serves or furnishes alcohol to a minor is liable for an accident caused by the intoxicated minor. This is called Social Host Liability. In this setting, the adult is responsible for injuries to the minor and/or for injuries suffered by another individual as a result of the actions of the intoxicated minor. Recently, some courts have expanded this liability to include the furnishing of illegal drugs to a minor, in violation of the Controlled Substances Act.
In contrast, a dram shop action seeks to hold a bar responsible for furnishing alcohol to an individual who is a minor or for furnishing alcohol to an adult who is visibly intoxicated. Social Host Liability does not require a finding that the minor was visibly intoxicated. Rather, the liability springs from the fact that the individual who caused the accident, or who injured himself in the accident, was a minor who was improperly furnished alcohol by an adult.