Focused Representation for Dram Shop Cases in Houston, TX

Texas courts have found that a bar operator owes a duty to motorists not to sell alcohol to a person they know is intoxicated. Referred to as a dram shop law, the state legislature codified an establishment’s liability under the Alcoholic Beverage Code. Therefore, a bar or restaurant knowingly selling alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person (or a minor) may be held liable for injuries resulting from their intoxication.

At Fibich, Leebron, Copeland & Briggs, we represent people who have been injured due to another person’s negligence. When a patron is overserved and causes an accident, the establishment that served them must be held accountable. If you have been injured by a drunk driver who was overserved, contact our office at (713) 751-0025 to schedule a free consultation. 

What Are Dram Shop Laws?

Dram shop laws impose liability on bars, restaurants, or other establishments that knowingly serve alcoholic beverages to an obviously intoxicated person. Many jurisdictions have dram shop laws, but they can differ slightly depending on the state.

In Texas, you dram shop laws may apply if:

  • A restaurant or bar knowingly served alcohol to a minor; or
  • An establishment knowingly served alcohol to an adult who was obviously intoxicated; and
  • The person’s intoxication was the proximate cause of the victim’s injuries or damages.

Dram shop laws are designed to hold establishments accountable when a patron they knowingly overserved ends up harming another person because of their intoxication. The most common types of cases involving dram shop liability are drunk driving accidents.

Why Are They Called Dram Shop Laws?

The term “dram shop” comes from 18th-century Britain. A dram was a unit of measurement used for alcohol. Dram shops were establishments that sold alcoholic beverages. While we no longer use the term to refer to a bar or tavern, the reference has remained in legal practice.

What Are Texas’ Dram Shop Laws?

The Texas Dram Shop Act is codified in Section 2.01 of the Alcoholic Beverage Code. It states that a provider of alcohol may be held liable for personal injury or property damage resulting from a person being overserved. 

Important things to know about the Texas Dram Shop Act:

  • A provider is a person licensed or permitted to sell alcoholic beverages. It does not include a social host.

  • Liability may be imposed on the provider only if it can be shown that the patron was obviously intoxicated and presented “a clear danger to himself and others.”

  • The patron’s intoxication must have been a proximate cause of the person’s injury or property damage.

The state’s dram shop laws also impose liability for knowingly providing alcohol to a minor whose intoxication causes harm to another person. The adult, however, cannot be the minor’s parent, guardian, or spouse. It must be shown that the server knowingly served alcohol to the minor or knowingly allowed the minor to be served alcohol contributed to their intoxication

Do Dram Shop Laws Apply to Social Hosts?

In Texas, dram shop laws do not apply to social hosts. In other words, a person who overserves a guest at their house party cannot be held responsible if that person causes an accident after leaving. 

However, a social host may potentially be held liable if they knowingly serve a minor alcohol and their intoxication causes harm to another person. In Texas, a minor is defined as someone who is under the age of 18.

How Do I Prove Liability If the Person Was Overserved?

Proving dram shop liability can be difficult without the help of an attorney. It is not enough to show that the person who caused your injuries was intoxicated. You must be able to prove that they were obviously intoxicated while they were in the establishment and that they continued to be served despite their level of intoxication.

Evidence that may show that a patron was obviously intoxicated may include:

  • Video footage of the patron stumbling
  • Receipts indicating the amount of alcohol purchased
  • Eyewitness testimony regarding the patron’s slurred speech or bloodshot eyes
  • Indications that the patron’s breath smelled of alcohol
  • A toxicology report showing the patron’s blood alcohol concentration

A dram shop law attorney can help you understand your rights and determine whether you have a valid claim for damages against a third party.

Who Can Bring a Case Under Dram Shop Laws?

Dram shop laws are designed to protect the public from individuals who are impaired by alcoholic beverages. It is important to discuss your case with an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that you meet all legal requirements and file within the statutory time limits.

Individuals who may be eligible to file a civil lawsuit against a bar or restaurant or overserved a patron:

  • Motorists injured by a drunk driver
  • Pedestrians struck by an intoxicated driver
  • Passengers in motor vehicles hit by a drunk driver
  • Family members who lost a loved one in a drunk driving accident

Building a strong case against a bar or restaurant that overserved a patron can be challenging. It requires extensive knowledge of Texas law and the state’s Dram Shop Act. It is in your best interest to consult with an attorney about your rights and responsibilities after an accident.

Contact Our Office for a Free Consultation

If you are injured by an overserved drunk driver, contact our office at (713) 751-0025 for a free consultation. 

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