“Dram Shop” Liability in Texas

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In the event that a drunk driver kills or injures themself or another after being over-served alcohol, it is important for the victim and/or their families to be able to seek justice from all negligent parties.

A “Dram Shop” is defined as a commercial establishment that sells alcoholic beverages. Dram shop cases are becoming more and more prevalent. There were 25,261 drunk driving crashes in 2021 in Texas alone, with 1,209 people killed as a result.

These numbers are horrific and are continuing in an upward trend both statewide and nationally. In part due to the practice of “Sunday Funday” that has gained popularity, we are seeing an influx of potential dram shop cases.

In Texas, there are statutory causes of action that can be found in the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code §2.02. One is known as the “Dram Shop Act”.

A number of factors may play a role in the frequency and causes of these drunk driving fatalities. However, what we are seeing is that a number of bars and other commercial establishments are over-serving their patrons.

Let’s think about it for a second. Have you ever gone to a bar that is advertising promotions such as  “two for one shots,” or “$5 you-call-it?”

Establishments often incentivize the sale of alcohol because they rely more on alcohol than food sales. Establishments may offer incentives to bartenders who sell more alcoholic beverages, failing to train their employees on over-serving. These factors can lead to devastating consequences.

The Texas Dram Shop Act provides for two avenues of liability when a person is injured due to being over-served alcohol:  when a commercial provider serves alcohol to an obviously intoxicated adult, or an adult (21 years or older and who is not the minor’s parent or guardian) knowingly served or provided to the minor any alcoholic beverages that contributed to the minor’s intoxication or allowed the minor to be served alcoholic beverages on the premises owned or leased by the adult.

What this means is, as an adult, if you allow minors to get intoxicated on your property or you provide the alcohol to the minors, you are liable under Texas law. You should think twice about letting your children’s (minor) friends drink on your property.

What about guests of legal age who drink alcohol at a party?

Texas law provides that a “social host” who serves alcohol to (of age) adult guests does not fall within the act, as long as the alcoholic beverages are served without a charge. If you charge your guests for alcohol, you may be negligent under the law if they are over-served.

At Farah Law, our attorneys are experienced in prosecuting establishments for over-serving their patrons. We have secured millions of dollars for violations of the Texas Dram Shop Act.

If you choose to drink, please drink responsibly. We have offices throughout the state of Texas, for more information, call 956-800-4340 or visit us at www.gflawoffices.com.

Alyssa Romero