27 May 2016
In the United States, a dram shop is an outdated term for any establishment that serves alcoholic beverages to consumers. The term comes from the fact that these businesses used to always sell their beverages and alcohols by the pint, and in olden times a pint was known as a dram. Despite being very antiquated and unknown to most people, according to an expert in alcoholic beverage licensing houston, the term dram shop has survived in the present day in the body of law that deals with the responsibilities and liabilities of the owners of establishments that sell alcoholic beverages to consumers.
The most common type of liability that the owner of an establishment that sells alcohol to consumers will be subject to is when they sell alcohol to visibly intoxicated persons or minors. The dram shop owner will then be liable if these people later cause death or injury to other people who are not at the bar. In general, dram shop owners are not liable as long as the intoxicated person or minor only injures people who are at the bar, which is an interesting fact. Nonetheless, considering dram shop owners have little control or say over where visibly intoxicated persons or minors go after they are served alcohol, it is in the best interest of dram shop owners to avoid serving alcohol to these people.
The purpose of this kind of law is to protect the general public from people who become so drunk that they start fights and get into car accidents by making it the responsibility of the dram shop owner to prevent these levels of drunkenness from occurring. However, these laws are difficult to follow for many dram shop owners, because there are large profits to be made in serving alcohol to visibly intoxicated persons, because they are willing to pay large amounts of money for expensive brands of alcohol and also often leave large tips. Selling alcohol to minors can also be quite lucrative for an unscrupulous and immoral dram shop owner. As a result of these incentives to break the law, undercover officers frequently go to bars and other dram shops to test out how closely the owners are adhering to the proper laws. They will pose as minors or visibly intoxicated persons and ask to be served alcohol, and if the dram shop owner sells it to them then they can be in for a world of trouble, up to and including the loss of their liquor license.