Term of the Day
Dram Shop Liability
Definition - What does Dram Shop Liability mean?
Dram Shop Liability refers to the rules, regulations, and laws imposed by the government on bars, taverns, or liquor stores. Normally, establishments that legally sell alcohol can be held liable if they sell to people who are visibly drunk, or if they sell to minors under the legal age of 21 to purchase or consume alcohol. Especially if any of those individuals are involved in any sort of alcohol-related incident or car accident involving the harm of another person, law enforcement could trace back to the establishment that sold the alcohol to the offender.
Advocates of Dram Shop Liability
The purpose of dram shop liability is to protect communities from anyone getting hurt by people who are under the influence of alcohol, or irresponsible minors who have consumed alcohol. While law enforcement and the US government are both strong advocates for dram shop liability and laws, organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) also push the enforcement of these laws as well. Coming from a personal and emotional standpoint, Mothers Against Drunk Driving often raise awareness about the consequences of selling alcohol to drunk individuals or minors, due to their experience of losing someone they loved because of a drunk driver or life changing alcohol related incident. Dram shop liability is also enforced in other countries around the world, such as Canada, New Zealand, Austrailia, and the United Kingdom. In fact, some of the first signs of dram shop liability in history dates back to the 19th century, when alcohol was limited and prohibited in places like the United States.
Dram Shop Liability by State
While the sale of alcohol to minors is illegal in every one of the 50 states, each state has varying versions of enforcing dram shop liability. In places like Texas and New Jersey, it is actually allowed for a minor to sue an establishment or residential property for selling or serving them alcohol if they sustained injuries while intoxicated. Many believe dram shop liability is effective in most cases, however, others believe incidents involving the hazards of drunk driving still occur too frequently, no matter how strict dram shop liability is enforced.