Dram Shop Laws Can Cause Business Owners And Social Hosts To Share Responsibility For Others’ DUI Accidents

A "dram shop" is an old-fashioned term for a bar or tavern. So-called "dram shop laws" are laws whose purpose is to hold business establishments liable in some circumstances for injuries or damage caused by persons to whom they have served alcohol, particularly those involved in DWI accidents afterward. "Social host" laws extend this principle to persons who serve alcohol in their homes.

Dram shop laws vary from state to state with respect to definitions of terms such as intoxication, guests and/or patrons. On the other hand, most are similar in that they apply an "obvious intoxication" test: whether a seller or server knew, or should have known, that a patron was so intoxicated that more alcohol would cause danger to himself or others.

What Are The Provisions Of Ohio's Dram Shop Law?

Under Ohio's dram shop law, someone injured by an intoxicated person may bring an action against the business establishment that sold or served the alcoholic beverage. The business' liability depends somewhat on where an injury occurred:

  • On the premises: If the injury occurred on the premises, or in a parking lot under its control, the business owner may be held liable if the injury resulted from negligence by the business or its employee(s).
  • Off premises: A business owner or employee may be held liable for injuries that occurred off premises if a person was visibly intoxicated, or a minor, and the establishment continued to serve them alcohol. "Injuries," however, may range from attacks and fist fights, to wrongful death.

How Serious Is A Dram Shop Act Violation In Ohio?

In Ohio, violations of dram shop ordinances by business establishments are considered only minor offenses, and offenders are usually subjected to fines ranging from $25 to $100. However, when a dram shop violation is part of a case involving disabling injuries or wrongful death sustained in a related DWI case, the matter can become very serious.

What Is Social Host Liability?

More than half the states in America have enacted social host liability laws. These laws hold hosts potentially liable if they serve alcohol to a minor who then becomes involved in an accident that causes injury to a third party. Some other states hold social hosts potentially liable under their existing dram shop laws. In Ohio, there is no liability for a host who provides alcohol to a guest unless the guest is under the legal age for drinking (i.e., 21 years old).

Call Crandall & Pera Law For Legal Advice And Counsel

With their in-depth knowledge of Ohio vehicle and dram shop laws, our attorneys are equipped to aggressively assert your interests and secure for you all the benefits and protections the law provides.

Please call us at 855-444-6651 or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation. Crandall & Pera Law has five Ohio law offices conveniently located in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Chesterland and Chagrin Falls.