What is Dram Shop Liability in Texas?

Glass of dark liquor on a table next to a car key.

When an intoxicated person gets behind the wheel of a vehicle, they are putting their life and the lives of others in jeopardy. Drunk drivers should be punished criminally for their negligent and destructive accidents and face civil justice if they caused injuries to others. Our firm has extensive experience representing victims of crashes caused by drunk drivers. In some cases, victims of drunk driving crashes may be able to hold the establishment that overserved the drunk driver partially liable for their injuries.

Texas is one of many states that allows injured parties to hold a bar, restaurant, or club liable for damages sustained from the drunk driving incident under the Dram Shop Act.

What is a “Dram Shop?”

Dram shop is an old-fashioned term for an alcohol-serving establishment. Today, a dram shop could be any commercial business that is authorized to sell alcohol to patrons, such as a bar, club, restaurant, sports stadium or arena. Dram shops have a legal responsibility to ensure the safety of their patrons and others by not overserving past the point of obvious intoxication.

About the Texas Dram Shop Act

The law states that dram shops can be liable for injuries or death to a third party caused by a drunk driver that was overserved in the establishment. The vast majority of states have a dram shop law or act, though the specific verbiage of each one can vary.

The law in Texas states that a bar can be held liable if they knew or should have known that the drunk driver was obviously intoxicated at their establishment yet continued to serve them more alcoholic drinks to the extent that he or she presented a clear danger to himself and others. Injured parties seeking compensation for their damages have to prove that the dram shop served the drunk driver after obvious intoxication and that the driver’s inebriation was the proximate cause of the auto wreck.

Dram shops can protect themselves from liability in these cases if employees attend seller training programs through the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC). If the employees in fact attended these programs, the employer has proof of such attendance, and the employer did not encourage employees to violate the law, the dram shop in question can potentially avoid a lawsuit.

It is important to remember that dram shop liability does not mean the drunk driver is off the hook from liability. In many cases, the overserving dram shop and the drunk driver share liability in the accident, and of course, the driver can still be punished criminally.

Dram shop laws can protect the community by keeping bars and restaurants in check when serving alcohol to patrons. The goal of these establishments is to make money, and serving alcohol helps achieve this goal. These laws prevent alcohol-serving establishments from putting profits above the safety of its patrons and community.

Contact an Experienced Drunk Driving Crash Lawyer

If you or a loved one have been hurt in a crash with a drunk driver, call Thomas J. Henry immediately. Car crashes involving intoxicated drivers can be complex — it is important to hire a law firm with years of experience handling cases like yours. Our drunk driving attorneys will take immediate action on your case and investigate whether the driver was illegally overserved alcohol prior to the wreck. We are available 24/7, nights and weekends to take your call and provide you with a free legal consultation. Contact us today for your free case review.

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