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

In a most drunken driving accident lawsuits, the case rarely ends with obtaining compensation from the impaired or intoxicated motorist. Oftentimes, there was a negligent provider of alcohol (a “dram shop” known colloquially in the legal community) 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.


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?

To beat an alcohol establishment in court, you need compelling evidence that they served a a patron who was already dangerously drunk. A major piece of evidence toward that goal is getting the bartenders and servers who worked on the night in question to admit or reveal that they weren’t aware of what constituted safe service of alcohol. 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 argue that their servers don’t even have a clue 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.

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 suggest is the very real possibility that 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, they run the risk of over-serving their customers.
  • The less someone weighs, the faster he or she will become intoxicated with each new beverage. Put simply, smaller bodies are less capable of processing a substance as intense as alcohol.
  • Women have a lower tolerance for alcohol than men. The science is all over the map as to why. 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 that they they were following the rules.

Not a Moment to Waste The importance of a prompt investigation...Read More >

Using the chart in litigation.

An experienced dram shop attorney will utilize the 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 makes vivid 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, 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. Wasn’t that an oversight on their part not to have this helpful tool available?
  4. The chart enables bartenders to judge people who don’t necessarily “look” intoxicated, but are. 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 “defense friendly.” 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 give us a call when it is most convenient for you. Put our over 25 years of experience to work for you.


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

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