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How The Dram Shop Act is Applied in Dallas

The Dram Shop Act, or the law pertaining to the sale and service of alcohol, was established in Texas in 1987 in order to prevent bars from profiting from over-serving a patron. While Texas certainly wants to be a conducive environment for businesses to thrive, lawmakers decided that safety should be reinforced and valued more than profit.

If you consider how an alcohol provider (bar, restaurant, club, catering service, etc.) makes its money, it’s not hard to figure out how the provider could benefit from over-serving its guests. The more drinks a patron orders, the more money the establishment makes. If someone has too much to drink and drives a vehicle, not only are they putting themselves at risk, but they are also putting other innocent people on the road at risk.

For more information about the ins and outs of Texas dram shop law, read our Guide to Texas Dram Shop Lawsuits.

In fact, Texas leads the nation in drunk driving accidents. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) states that 1,337 drunk driving deaths occured in Texas in 2013. This number was equivalent to approximately one tenth of all drunk driving accidents. Because this number is so high, many question whether or not the Dram Shop Act actually prevents accidents from occurring. However, the truth is that many people aren’t aware of their rights associated with these laws and don’t pursue a claim against the alcohol provider. When the alcohol provider is not punished for its negligence, the law is rendered ineffective and more innocent people suffer as a result.

Questions answered on this page.

  • What does dram shop law have to do with my drunk-driving accident?
  • Is a bar liable for my injuries?
  • How does a bar help prevent these accidents?
  • What happens if I was also drinking?
  • Do I need a lawyer?
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What the law says about dram shop cases:

(b) Providing, selling, or serving an alcoholic beverage may be made the basis of a statutory cause of action under this chapter and may be made the basis of a revocation proceeding under Section 6.01(b) of this code upon proof that:
(1) 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; and
(2) the intoxication of the recipient of the alcoholic beverage was a proximate cause of the damages suffered.

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How the Law Applies in a Real Setting

While Dallas has a large and diverse selection of bars, clubs, and restaurants, it’s also a large city of commuters who drive personal motor vehicles rather than take taxis or public transportation. With such a large field of options for nightlife, it would be easy for these drivers to be over-served and cause a serious accident, but dram shop doesn’t only apply behind the wheel.

Other common Dram Shop scenarios in Dallas include bar fights, pedestrian accidents, bicycle accidents, and even shootings. However, an alcohol provider, like a bar or club, is not automatically liable for any injuries or deaths you or your family members have sustained.As the above Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code states, there are certain elements that have to be present.Below, we’ll take a look at an example case, and determine whether or not there are elements that may allow for the bar’s liability.

    The Situation

    You’re at a red light at the corner of Main Street waiting to turn left onto I-75 when a truck heading the wrong way down Main Street crashes into your car, seriously injuring you and your passenger. You have multiple fractures and contusions and have to spend some time in the hospital, followed by more time off from work. Witnesses who know the driver of the truck say he had been drinking at multiple bars in Deep Ellum leading up to the time of the accident.

    When an investigator looks into these accusations, he discovers that indeed, the truck driver was over-served at two different bars. Other patrons in the bar noted that the driver was obviously intoxicated and fell over more than once, before and after being served.

    The Law

    Looking at the elements of the alcoholic beverage code, it must be determined whether 1. The provider was aware that the individual was intoxicated to the extent that he presented a clear danger to himself and others and 2. The individual’s intoxication from the provided beverages was the proximate cause of damages suffered.

    The above situation shows that most likely, the driver of the truck presented a clear danger to himself and others (the alcohol providers witnessed his state of intoxication and could have logically concluded that he would or could be driving home), and yet, still served him anyway. In addition, the driver of the truck most likely caused the accident because of his intoxication.(He would not likely be driving on the wrong side of the road if he were sober.)

    In this example, you’d likely have a good case against the bars that served this individual. The individual himself would not go without punishment, as he would likely be facing criminal charges, but the bar would also be held liable for their part in the incident. Since all the evidence in this case points in your favor, it would be a good idea to speak with a lawyer to find out what your options would be.

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Ways that Bars Help Prevent Accidents

In general, people are responsible for their own actions. But once a person is already intoxicated, they are no longer in a position to make sound decisions for themselves.This is when The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, or TABC, requires all alcohol providers in Dallas to train their employees on proper service of alcohol. This includes having knowledge of BAC (Blood Alcohol Content) charts, what signs to look for in an intoxicated person (coordination, reduced judgement, vision, reflexes, and appearance), and punishments and fines associated with the service of minors. If alcohol providers (the bars restaurants) do not make sure their employees are properly trained, they are held liable for any improper service.

male-blood_alcohol_percentage                                   Male BAC Chart
female-blood_alcohol_percentage                                   Female BAC Chart

The BAC chart also helps individuals become more responsible for their own actions. If you are unsure how to control your alcohol intake, the chart helps you as an individual bear more responsibility for the amount of alcohol you are consuming. So what happens when you are injured because you were consuming alcohol? As with our previous example, you’d need to prove that the bar over-served, that your injuries were a result of this over-service, and that you were less at fault than the bar in that particular instance.
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What To Do If You Think You Need A Lawyer

Hiring an investigator or attorney may be the right path for you if you either aren’t satisfied with reports about what happened in the incident (reports state alcohol was not suspected, but you have good reason to suspect it was) or the reports reveal that alcohol was a factor in the accident, and now you’d like to receive compensation for damages that you’ve suffered. Grossman Law can help. Contact us at (972) 808-7629 for a free consultation, and remember that we never charge you a cent unless you win your case.

Related articles for further reading:

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