Texas Dram Shop Act Holds Bars Responsible for Drunk Drivers

In many situations the Texas Dram Shop Act results in the server of alcoholic beverages being legally responsible for damage done by an intoxicated patron in an auto accident. Chapter 2 of the Alcoholic Beverage Code entitled, “Civil Liabilities for Serving Beverages”, otherwise known as the Dram Shop Act, §2.02(1), provides that a server of alcoholic beverages pursuant to a license or permit issued under the laws of the State of Texas may be subject to liability for damages if “at the time the provision occurred it was apparent to the provider that the individual being sold, served, or provided with an alcoholic beverage was obviously intoxicated to the extent that he presented a clear danger to himself and others; . . .”. Dram shop liability is often misunderstood as liability which automatically arises as a result of a night club serving alcohol to a patron and that patron subsequent causing an accident while under the influence of that alcohol.

Dram Shop liability is, in essence, the negligent continuing to serve a patron that is obviously intoxicated. It is the actions of the server after the server is on notice that the patron is intoxicated that gives rise to liability. The intoxicated state of the drunk driver may be proved through the analysis of credit card receipts, bar tabs, blood alcohol levels, testimony of the cocktail waitress, or eyewitnesses at the bar.

The liability of an adult 21 years of age or older who provides alcohol to a minor under the age of 18 is much easier to establish. Alcoholic Beverage Code Chapter 2, § 2.02(c), provides that if an adult who is not a minor’s parent or guardian provides alcohol to a minor or allows alcohol to be served to a minor then the adult is liable for damages proximately caused by the intoxication of the minor. In simple terms, this law results in a parent who provides alcohol for their teenage children’s party being liable for any damages caused by any of the minors at the party who drink too much and go out and cause an auto accident.

For more information contact a Tyler Drunk Driver Auto Accident Attorney today.