Bars Responsible for Drunk Drivers

Dram shop liability laws help reduce drunk driving. Those who serve alcohol may be held responsible for damages.

DUI is a crime and it has various penalties depending on which state you happen to live. Many states these days are starting to enact something referred to as dram shop liability laws to help reduce DUI. Texas is one of those states.

This particular concept has been around for a fair while. In fact, the first version of the legislation used now, The Texas Dram Shop Act, didn’t pass into law until 1987 as a result of El Chico Corporation v. Poole. That case recognized a common law duty on the part of dram shops, a.k.a. any place that sells alcohol for consumption, to their patrons. As an Austin personal injury attorney, I see a lot of plaintiff’s injury cases as a result of a DUI driver.

It’s interesting to note that the original purpose of the Dram Shop Act was the protection of “the welfare, health, peace, temperance and safety of the people of the state.” (Tex Alco Bev Code Ann§1.03) As it was then, so it is now. Unfortunately, the numbers of drunk drivers out there on the roads in Texas has gone up significantly. In part, the Dram Shop Act does make a difference though.
Not all states have the exact same law on their books, but by and large they do say the same thing. All that you really need to know is that there are several characteristics that help reduce drunk driving. To this end, some states only focus on illegal booze sales. An example of this would be knowingly selling alcohol to a minor who then drives while intoxicated and kills someone. In those states, that bar may be held liable for wrongful death compensation; all of it or part of it.

Other states want to stop social hosts and bartenders letting people drink and then get behind the wheel of a vehicle. Their laws state those who serve should also know how much someone has consumed. Thus, if someone leaves a place and is obviously 4-sheets to the wind, the place serving the booze may be held partially responsible for any damages caused by the drunk driver.

The underlying reason for most states to pass this type of a law is to hopefully encourage those who serve alcohol, and make a tidy profit at it, to take more responsibility in keeping drunks off the road. The last thing that most places that serve alcoholic beverages to their patrons want is to pay out millions in damages when it’s far cheaper and makes more common sense to call the patron a cab.

If you have been involved in an accident and the other driver was DUI, you may want to pursue compensation under dram shop liability laws. You’d need to speak to an Austin personal injury attorney to find out how these actions work and what the process is for filing a lawsuit.

Beverly Aylmer writes for Lee, Gober & Reyna. If you need an Austin personal injury lawyer, contact an Austin car injury attorney from Lee, Gober & Reyna. Visit