The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C. Articles How Dram Shop Laws Affect Car Wreck Cases - St. Louis Lawyer

How Dram Shop Laws Affect Car Wreck Cases - St. Louis Lawyer

By Christopher Hoffmann  Dec. 29, 2017 12:30p

What Are Dram Shop Laws?

Dram shop laws” are related to how much responsibility either an establishment, like a restaurant or bar - or even a social host - has when someone leaves their place after drinking and subsequently driving. Although it is ultimately the driver’s responsibility to know when they have had too much to drink to get behind the wheel of a car, there are instances when others can be held liable for either over-serving them alcohol, knowing that they are intoxicated and letting them drive, or for not taking their keys to prevent them driving.

Dram shop laws in Missouri state that an injured person may hold a tavern, restaurant, or bar civilly responsible if the facility over-serves someone who has clearly had too much to drink, is “visibly intoxicated,” and is subsequently injured. “Visibly intoxicated” is a legal construct, but in general, it is defined as someone who is significantly impaired and has lost their coordination or who can’t function at all.

Missouri’s dram shop laws differ from other states because they relate only to licensed establishments that sell alcohol solely to be drunk on their premises. In other words, a liquor store generally can’t be held responsible for selling alcohol to someone who is visibly intoxicated; only establishments that are licensed to sell alcohol to be consumed on their premises can be held liable in civil court.

Standard of proof in dram shop cases

To prove that someone is liable under dram shop rules, the person who is injured must be able to show that the plaintiff’s injuries were directly related to the defendant. This means the plaintiff must prove that the vendor clearly knew that the person they served alcohol to was visibly intoxicated. That burden of proof can be difficult.

Because not everyone behaves the same way when they are intoxicated, proving that a bartender knew that someone was drunk is not an easy thing to do, which is why you will likely want to discuss your case with an experienced St. Louis car accident attorney.

Can Civil Hosts Be Held Liable?

If you are at a party where you are served too much alcohol, and you then get into an accident and hurt someone, your social host is typically not liable for serving you that alcohol. There is no social host liability in Missouri’s dram shop laws. The liability befalls the person who drank too much at a social gathering, not the person who was holding the party.

If you have been involved in a St. Louis drunk driving accident, call (314) 361-4242 to schedule a FREE case evaluation with an experienced car accident attorney at The Hoffmann Law Firm, L.L.C.

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