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How Do Dram Shop Laws Protect Public Safety?

How Do Dram Shop Laws Protect Public Safety?

Dram Shop Laws are an aspect of social host liability. These laws discourage serving alcohol to someone who is already under the influence. However, this isn’t the only reason for Dram Shop Laws. Social host liability holds the host of a private gathering responsible for an injury or death directly caused by serving alcohol to a guest. Dram Shop Laws are in place to hold an establishment such as a bar or a restaurant liable for the negligent actions of a patron.

Car accidents due to drunk driving are devastating to those who sustain injuries and their families. These accidents also pose an extreme risk to public safety. Bartenders become liable when an intoxicated patron drives away from the establishment and causes a car accident. That’s why within this article we’ll specifically address Dram Shop Laws related to Personal Injury.

Dram Shop Laws have origins dating back to 18th Century England

So, what is “Dram Shop”? Where did the term originate? Dram Shop gets its name from 18th Century English shops serving gin by the spoonful. These spoons were known as “drams”. Dram Shop is an outdated term for a problem that has withstood the test of time. To be certain, it has drunk driving laws enforced to prove it.

These laws are known for being enforced using civil action. These actions allow victims or their surviving families to sue the establishment that sold the alcohol for compensation. Without a lawyer who knows their way around these laws, proving fault of the establishment may prove impossible.

Proving fault in these cases difficult, but not impossible with an experienced Personal Injury lawyer!

Some questions asked to better understand whether the client’s claim is able to proceed to trial:

  • Was the defendant drinking elsewhere prior to consuming alcohol at the establishment?
  • Was the defendant drinking with a medical condition that impairs judgement?
  • What is the defendant’s tolerance for alcohol?
  • Is there proof of the defendant arriving or leaving in a car?

What are Florida’s Dram Shop Laws?

A lawyer needs a thorough understanding of how enforceable the laws in the state the accident took place are. In the state of Florida, there are extremely limited dram shop laws, which begin and end with the following according to official state statutes:

“[…]768.125 Liability for injury or damage resulting from intoxication. A person who sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person of lawful drinking age shall not thereby become liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such person, except that a person who willfully and unlawfully sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person who is not of lawful drinking age or who knowingly serves a person habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages may become liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such minor or person.”

What do all 43 states Dram Shop Laws have in common?

Nearly every state has some form of Dram Shop Laws. However, not every state imposes the same laws or goes to the same lengths to explain the laws. Florida is an example of a state with extremely lax Dram Shop enforcement. The common ground in every state that upholds Dram Shop statutes is the well-known “obvious intoxication test”.

The test determines the following:

  • Did the vendor know, reasonably, prior to serving alcohol, that the defendant was drinking prior to ordering alcohol at the establishment?
  • Were they aware the defendant was drinking to the point that consuming more alcohol was a risk to public safety?

Serving alcohol to a minor is a crime

Dram Shop Laws protect minors as well. Alcohol vendors willing serving alcohol to a minor can be liable under Dram Shop Laws for an accident that occurs due to their intoxication.

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