Dram Shop Laws And Liabilities

If you are thinking about opening a bar, you need to realize that there is more to having a bar than just selling drinks. You have some liability and responsibility to your customers as well. If you are concerned about your liability, you can talk to a consultant who will help you understand your liabilities and responsibilities and help you play ways that you can handle those things easier. 

Dram Shop

Dram shop is the fancy legal term to describe a bar or tavern where alcohol is sold and consumed. 

Dram Shop Liabilities

The majority of states in the US have various liability laws. The main liability in the case of a dram shop is that you are allowed to be sued in court if you knowingly let an intoxicated person out to drive and they then get into an accident. If you think that someone is already visibly intoxicated and you serve them more alcohol and they get behind the wheel and into an accident, you will be the one who is liable for their accident, because you were the last one to serve them and they were visibly intoxicated at the time. 


While each state has their own particular conditions for their law, there are some things that are pretty common in the law. One of them is that the person who is bringing the suit has to prove that your dram shop was the one that served them alcohol last. There are a few ways that they can do this, and they include taking advantage of security cameras to track the driver. Another thing they have to prove is that the person appeared to be visibly intoxicated when they were served alcohol in your bar. The people who are bringing the suit may be able to depose you and your employees to see what you thought in the matter. 

The person bringing the suit also has to prove that at least one cause of the accident was due to the driver's intoxicated state. For example, if someone had one drink, was not over the legal limit, and skidded on some ice, causing an accident, then it is likely that a suit could not successfully be brought against you. However, if that person was over the legal limit and skidded on the ice, hitting someone, alcohol may be one of the factors in the accident because the driver's reflexes were impaired. 

If you are going to own an establishment which sells alcohol, it is your responsibility to your patrons that you and your employees can tell if a person is intoxicated and know not to serve someone who was intoxicated and tries to keep them from driving. 

For more information about how to handle your liabilities, talk with a dram shop consulting service, such as Spirited Consulting, LLC.