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Chrissie Cole
Chrissie Cole
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Dram Shops: Understanding Liquor Liability

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In certain states, ‘dram shops,’ are liable for the alcohol they serve to their customers. In the United States, the term ‘dram shops’ refers to a bar that serves alcoholic beverages.

Dram shop laws are intended to target bars that serve visibly intoxicated patrons and to establish liability to those that suffer injury as the result of such service. To use a working example, say Sally walks into a bar and is served a drink. She drinks it fast and then leaves and gets in her car. But, when she begins driving, she hits a man driving. In jurisdictions with dram shop laws, the bar could be held liable for her actions.

In those jurisdictions with dram shop laws, the bar could be liable for his actions.

The laws were designed to protect the general public from the dangers of servicing visibly drunk patrons, and children.

New York Dram Shop Laws

In the state of New York, it is illegal for businesses to serve alcohol to persons that appear visibly intoxicated however it is left to the discretion of the bartender serving the alcohol.

New York is unique from other states in that patrons themselves cannot sue the business, but rather the bar or tavern can be held liable for damages caused by third parties injured by the patrons of the bar were sold alcoholic beverages.

Also, the bar can be held liable if a patron injures a pedestrian. In fact, damages are not limited to car incidents, but rather, can also include incidences in where the patron gets into a fight.