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How Is the TABC Blood Alcohol Chart Used As Evidence In Dram Shop Cases?

By: Mike Grossman, Texas Injury Attorney

An overview of the TABC BAC chart and how it is used as evidence in Texas dram shop cases:

In drunk driving accident lawsuits, the case doesn't necessarily end with obtaining compensation from the impaired or intoxicated motorist. In many cases, there was a negligent licensed provider of alcohol that served the intoxicated driver too much, which ultimately caused the accident. Texas law allows accident victims to sue the bar who served the drunk driver, but only under very specific circumstances. And even when those are present, extensive documentation of the bar's negligence will still be required in order to win your case.

To beat an alcohol establishment in court, you need compelling evidence that they served a a patron who was already dangerously drunk. The testimony of the bartenders and servers who worked on the night in question showing that they weren't aware of what constituted safe service of alcohol can be an important part of the evidentiary package. Or, to put it another way, when a negligent bar claims that they did nothing wrong, a good way to refute their position is to demonstrate, through sworn testimony, that their servers don't even know what constitutes "too many drinks." Testing their knowledge of and familiarity with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission's BAC chart is a good way to reveal their lack of regard for the rules.

Questions Answered on This Page:

  • How is the TABC BAC chart used in a dram shop case?
  • How can BAC be proved in my Texas dram shop case?
  • How exactly does the TABC BAC chart work?

The TABC blood alcohol percentage charts.

Male Blood Alcohol Percentage Chart


Male BAC Chart (Source)

Female Blood Alcohol Percentage Chart


Female BAC Chart (Source)


Listed above are the TABC's two charts on blood alcohol percentage, measuring how much a given number of drinks will influence you based on weight and sex. Here are some inferences that can be made from the charts:

  • Obviously, the more alcoholic beverages you consume, the quicker you will become intoxicated. While this is true, what the chart does not tell you is that there's a very real possibility the drinks consumed will not all be of the same alcohol percentage. For example, high alcohol content beverages, such as hard liquor or even wine, should get a person intoxicated much faster than a small can of beer would. As such, when bartenders deviate from the suggested serving sizes (which happens more often than you might think) they run the risk of over-serving their customers.
  • The less someone weighs, the faster he or she will become intoxicated. Put simply, smaller bodies are less capable of processing alcohol.
  • Women have a lower tolerance for alcohol than men. The science is all over the map as to why, but this fact is well-known enough that a trained server should be aware of it. Some peer-reviewed publications attribute this to a lower level of an enzyme (ADH) found in women.

Again, when bartenders and servers illustrate (usually in depositions) that they don't know how any of that works, it becomes very hard for a jury to take them seriously when they claim to have been following the rules.

Using the chart in litigation.

An experienced dram shop attorney will utilize BAC charts in several important ways during your case:

  1. The chart makes it simple for the jury to understand exactly how intoxicated the person was. It's from an official source, it's easy to grasp, and it puts into vivid, objective terms exactly where problematic drinking begins.
  2. If the bar had the chart at the time of the over-service of alcohol, the bar's employees will be confronted with it. Why, for example, if they knew that someone the drinker's size could not possibly drink 5 vodka tonics in an hour without becoming dangerously intoxicated, did they nonetheless serve them that much?
  3. If the bar did NOT have the chart, why not? It's free and available on the TABC's website. Was it not a major oversight on the management's part not to have this helpful tool available?
  4. The chart enables bartenders to judge people who don't necessarily "look" intoxicated, but have still reached that point regardless. Some hardened drinkers have learned to adapt and don't slur, wobble, or knock over drinks in the same way that lighter drinkers will. If the bartender goes by the chart rather than just eyeing the patron, they can better prevent accidents from happening.

Further, there is no counter-chart. There's no way to measure alcohol's impact in a similar way that is more friendly to the defendants. Instead, we all have to measure drinking in the same way.

Give experienced dram shop attorney Michael Grossman a call today.

If you have further questions about dram shop claims, or want to begin your pursuit of justice today, then call Grossman Law Offices at (855) 326-0000. We know the law, and can give you consultation at no out-of-pocket expense, so feel free to give us a call when it is most convenient for you.

Other articles about Texas dram shop cases that may be helpful:

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