What is "Dram Shop" Liability for Serving Alcohol?

By: Frank H. Bailey, Attorney, Co-Founder & Partner

Dram shop or dramshop is a legal term in the United States referring to a bar, tavern or the like where alcoholic beverages are sold. Traditionally, it referred to a shop where spirits were sold by the dram, a small unit of liquid.

 

Arkansas Retailer’s Liability

When lawyers refer to dram shop liability in Arkansas, they are talking about liability imposed by statute to commercial establishments that sell alcoholic beverages.  The dram shop law in Arkansas provides, “In cases where it has been proven that an alcoholic beverage retailer knowingly sold alcoholic beverages to a person who was clearly intoxicated at the time of such sale, or sold under circumstances where the retailer reasonably should have known the person was clearly intoxicated at the time of the sale, a civil jury may determine whether or not the sale constitutes a proximate cause of any subsequent injury to other persons.”   Ark. Code Ann. 16-126-106.

Arkansas Social Host Liability

Under that same law, Arkansas, unlike many other states, only holds a social host liable if alcoholic beverages are served to an underage person.  The Arkansas law provides, “In no event will the act of providing alcoholic beverages to a person who can lawfully possess them by a social host, or other person who does not hold an alcoholic beverage vendor’s permit, constitute a proximate cause of any personal injuries or property damages which may be subsequently caused by an individual consuming any alcoholic beverages so provided.”

Missouri Dram Shop Liability

Missouri has also addressed the issue of liability for serving alcoholic beverages by statute.  Mo. Ann. 537.503 imposes limited liability against licensed vendors of alcohol, by the drink, for consumption on the premises.  In Missouri, a cause of action exists only if (1) the vendor is convicted of or receives a suspended sentence for selling alcohol to a minor or obviously intoxicated person, and (2) that sale is the proximate cause of the injury or death sustained by that person.

Oklahoma Dram Shop Liability

Unlike Missouri there is no statute in Oklahoma addressing dram shop liability.  Oklahoma has imposed liability by common-law.  In Oklahoma, a person who furnishes liquor may be liable for damages for serving an obviously intoxicated person from which it can be determined that an unreasonable risk of harm to others was created by the impaired ability to operate a motor vehicle.

Texas Dram Shop Liability

Texas imposes liability by statute for providing, selling, or serving an alcoholic beverage to an obviously intoxicated person to the extent that he presented a clear danger to himself and others and if the intoxication is the proximate cause of the injury.  Tex. Alco. Bev. Code Ann. 2.02.

Mississippi Dram Shop Liability

Mississippi has also addressed dram shop liability by statute.  Miss. Code Ann. 67-3-73 limits liability to those cases in which licensed alcohol vendors furnish alcohol to visibly intoxicated persons, or in cases where a person causes the consumption of alcoholic beverages by force, or false representations that the beverage contains no alcohol.

Bailey & Oliver Law Firm

As you can see, dram shop laws vary from state to state.  If you are involved in an accident caused by an intoxicated person, we understand you are in a lot of pain, you are nervous about how you are going to pay for your medical expenses, and you are nervous about giving a recorded statement to an insurance company.  The lawyers at Bailey and Oliver Law Firm have over 60 years combined experience in handling these types of cases.  If you or someone you know has a personal injury case involving intoxication, we can help.  Call us at  (479) 202-5200 and talk to one of our experienced attorneys.