Dram Shop Laws and Drunk Driving Liability


Dram shop laws were created with the intention of putting a degree of pressure on establishments and employees of establishments who serve alcohol to act more carefully when it comes to serving customers who are obviously very intoxicated. These laws have led bartenders and servers to “cut off” patrons that they feel are acting in a manner that indicates that they would be unsafe to drive home.

In the event of a drunk driving accident, although the intoxicated individual carries most of the responsibility for the accident in question, there are other people who may have contributed–even if indirectly–to the final outcome as well. Dram shop laws make it so that the establishment where a drunk driver t was given alcohol and the person that served it to him or her directly can be held liable for damages in a civil court.

Facts About Dram Shop Law

The term “dram shop” is a hold over from colonial times when alcohol serving establishments–called shops–used units of liquid measurement to serve alcohol called “drams.”
There are 43 states and Washington D.C. that currently have some form of these laws.
Some states with more severe forms of this law allow for underage persons who cause a drunk driving accident and were injured to sue the establishment that gave them alcohol for their own injuries.
These laws were supported largely by the non-profit group Mothers Against Drunk Driving or MADD.
Although these laws have received criticism concerning the fact that they take away from personal liability and responsibility on the part of those who choose to drive drunk, the laws have been shown to have some effect on drunk driving.