Inaugural Dram Shop Justice Award Presented at MADD SC’s 2022 Law Enforcement Recognition Dinner

Earlier this month, the Yarborough Applegate Law Firm served as the Captain Sponsor of the 2022 Law Enforcement Recognition Dinner and Training Symposium, hosted by MADD South Carolina. Held in North Charleston, the event was organized to express gratitude and appreciation for the brave men and women of law enforcement who work tirelessly to keep our roads safe.

As part of the inaugural event, Yarborough Applegate Partner and MADD SC Board Member, David Lail, established the first-ever Dram Shop Justice Award to recognize the role law enforcement plays in addressing a root cause of drunk driving—unsafe alcohol providers. Lail created the Dram Shop Justice Award to honor an officer who has displayed a relentless commitment to victims of drunk driving through the identification of irresponsible establishments that break the law by over-serving alcohol and putting drunk drivers on our roads and our communities at risk. The inaugural recipient of the Dram Shop Justice Award was Lieutenant Brian C. Ridgeway, who went beyond the call of duty in his investigation of a drunk driving crash that took the life of a young man and his girlfriend. 

Lt. Ridgeway, while on the South Carolina Highway Patrol’s MAIT Team, took his investigation of the drunk driving crash to the next level by uncovering the location of the bar where the drunk driver had been overserved as well as the number and type of drinks that were served to the already intoxicated driver before he was allowed to drive away.

Because of Lt. Ridgeway’s superb investigative tactics, Lail was able to use South Carolina’s “Dram Shop” laws to hold the bar responsible for the consequences of over-serving alcohol and enabling drunk driving. This award was a small gesture of gratitude that the victim’s family presented hand-in-hand with Lail, a moment we will not soon forget.

“Witnessing my clients meet and embrace Lt. Ridgeway, the officer whose work helped change the course of their lives after experiencing such an incredible loss, was one of those unforgettable moments in life,” says Lail. “There are very few times where something truly comes full circle—this was one of them. I was humbled to be a part of it.”

“The Dram Shop Justice Award is a great fit for this important new event for MADD South Carolina,” said Steven Burritt, MADD Regional Executive Director for South Carolina and North Carolina.  “We made an effort to try to recognize all the different areas of enforcement that can make a difference, even beyond just make lots of DUI arrests, and a thorough crash investigation that happens to also set the stage for a strong civil case that can be so important for victims is worthy of being recognized.  I loved the idea right away when David brought it to me.”


As part of the 2022 MADD Law Enforcement Recognition Dinner and Training Symposium, Lail conducted a training with law enforcement officers entitled, Drunk Drivers and Dram Shop Cases. Lail’s training, a South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy-approved continuing education event, explained the purpose and importance of Dram Shop laws, shared insights on how law enforcement’s investigations can aid in the criminal prosecution of a drunk driver and potentially change the lives of victims and their families at the same time. The training also delivered real-world examples of specific steps law enforcement officers can take to uncover critical evidence to help victims in both the criminal and civil justice systems.


Yarborough Applegate lawyers represent victims—only. In seeking full justice for victims, Lail and the firm work alongside law enforcement to hold all wrongdoers accountable for the harm caused by drunk driving. They don’t just stop at the drunk driver—they go to the source. Their mission is the relentless pursuit of drunk drivers and any bar, restaurant, or other alcohol retailer that plays a role in putting drunk drivers on our roads and our communities at risk.

The Yarborough Applegate Law Firm is committed to the advocacy and protection of crime victims’ rights, and if you would like to learn more about how “Dram Shop” laws support victims of drunk driving, contact them here.