Wrongful Death by Vehicle & Dram Shop liability attorney

On the night of December 15, 2011 a driver speeding away from a bar on Burke Street crashed into Hanes Park. Rhiannon Rupert, of Mount Airy, a 29-year-old woman and mother of a 7 year old, died after being ejected from the vehicle. This car went across West End Blvd, over an embankment, across a field, hit an embankment, flew over Peters Creek, and landed near the track on the other side of the wide creek. Speed and alcohol are likely to have contributed to the death and the accident.

Police said the crash happened about 2:10 a.m. The Winston-Salem Journal reports that the vehicle, an Audi coupe, was driven by Joshua Sean Bowman, 22, of Yadkinville.

Bowman was taken to WFBMC and is listed in critical condition. Bowman & Rupert were ex-boyfriend/girlfriend.

Ms. Rupert's father, Kenneth Chicoine, told television crews that his daughter and Bowman were at the Burke Street Pub when a disturbance broke out and everyone had to leave.

To have dram shop violation may include any of the following acts of selling liquor, beer, wine (alcohol):

  • To an obviously intoxicated customer
  • To a minor or underage person (based on identification)
  • Without a license or identification or
  • After hours
Common Elements of Dram Shop Laws

Generally, grounds to file a lawsuit includes the following:

  • A vendor or seller of alcohol(employees of a vendor are considered the vendor's agent)
  • Served or sold alcohol to an intoxicated person (a person whose drinking appears to have diminished their ability to think and act normally) or minor
  • The intoxication was the proximate cause of the injury to a person or property
Proximate Cause

Most of these laws require that an injured person, suing a commercial establishment, prove that without the act of serving or selling the alcohol, the accident would not have happened. In most cases, it is enough to show that giving alcohol added to the intoxication in some way and ultimately led to the injury of property or a person.


Dram shop laws are designed to provide money to those injured as a result of wanton sales or furnishing of alcohol, but some laws contain limitations on the money that a person may receive. Awards for mental suffering and related intangible injuries are generally not recoverable unless the person can also show a physical injury.

Sanders Law Firm, PLLC protects the rights of persons or the heirs of deceased persons injured in car wrecks, bike wrecks, boating wrecks, and those accidents caused by the illegal service of alcohol by a bar or home owner.

Call Kirk Sanders at 336-724-4707 to discuss.