Drinking and driving is a problem in America. Though they should be one of the easiest things to prevent, the Centers for Disease Control says that alcohol-related crashes kill 29 people each day in the United States. This means that one person dies every 50 minutes during a motor vehicle accident.
Who Is Responsible for Drunk Driving?
When alcohol impairment causes a car accident, most people think that the only person to blame is the person who was driving drunk. While unsafe drivers should always receive blame for decisions that kill or injure others, the state of Texas adds extra accountability to crashes caused by drunk driving. The state does this using a law known as the Texas Dram Shop Law.
The state of Texas does this using a law known as the Texas Dram Shop Law.
What Is a Dram Shop Law?
Dram shop laws hold establishments accountable for knowingly overserving a patron.
A dram shop is an establishment that sells alcohol. In many states, dram shops are responsible for making sure they don’t overserve patrons. Often, laws hold dram shops accountable for the destruction they could have prevented by cutting a person off from drinking or by stopping them from getting in their vehicle while intoxicated. The idea is simple: someone who is inebriated might need the judgment skills of a non-intoxicated person to be safe.
Currently, 43 states have a version of a dram shop law.
Texas’ Dram Shop Law: What You Should Know
The state’s dram shop law is outlined in the second chapter of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code. This section provides a set of laws that places accountability on hosts for overserving guests. Importantly, the dram shop law is applicable to vendors that sell alcohol as well as those who host events where alcohol is free.
The Texas Dram Shop Law creates penalties in three significant situations:
- Serving alcohol to minors
- Serving alcohol to a person who is obviously intoxicated and poses a threat to others
- A person’s intoxication could predictably cause harm to others
Who Is Liable Because of the Dram Shop Law?
Essentially, the state's dram shop law makes any party in charge of serving alcohol to others—whether free or paid—liable for accidents caused by overserving. The Texas Dram Shop Law is important because it places responsibility on those who should be able to make correct decisions for an impaired person. It saves lives by creating an extra layer of accountability for everyone involved with alcohol consumption.
For example, if a person is overserved at a bar, that establishment must make sure that person doesn’t drive while drunk. If that patron causes a serious accident, the bar might be liable for part of the damages sustained by the other party.
Does the Texas Dram Shop Law Apply to Social Drinking?
As mentioned above, the Texas Dram Shop Law also applies to those who are serving alcohol to guests during a social setting. The law makes it illegal for any host over 21 to provide alcohol to someone under 18 if their legal guardian is not present. Additionally, the law bans adults from knowingly allowing minors to consume alcohol on their property.
If a minor causes an accident because of alcohol impairment, injured individuals might be able to hold the person responsible for losses caused by the crash.
What Can Someone Recover Under the Texas Dram Shop Law?
In some instances, compensation might be possible if the other party violated Texas dram shop rules.
Damages recoverable from alcohol vendors under the dram shop law include:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Funeral expenses
- Pain and suffering
- And more
Additionally, the intoxicated person might be able to file a case against an establishment for their losses, including the damages they had to pay to those harmed by the accident. While rare, this can be possible because the person was impaired before their accident, and the shop had a legal responsibility to prevent them from consuming more alcohol or placing others at risk.
Can I Make a Claim for Damages Under the Texas Dram Shop Law?
Your ability to make a dram shop law claim depends on the specifics of your case. Every person’s situation is different, and a variety of factors influence their ability to pursue compensation using the Texas Dram Shop Law.
The most crucial component of a claim is how much a dram shop is responsible for a person’s accident. A jury must find a shop to be more than 50 percent liable for a person’s injuries.
If you suspect that you have a claim under this law, then you should call Arnold & Itkin immediately for a free consultation at (888) 493-1629. Our team is ready to listen to your story and help you decide your legal options at no cost. If we take your case, we’ll charge no fee unless we win results for you!