Dram shop laws are those pertaining to bars, taverns and other establishments where alcohol is served, which are covered under Florida Statute § 768.125.The laws generally come into play in personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits in which an injured party (or their family member) attempts to hold a bar or other establishment responsible for selling alcohol to an individual whose careless, alcohol-related behavior caused someone injury, such as in a DUI case.


Defining Dram Shop Laws

A dram shop is simply the government’s term for a bar or tavern or another establishment that sells liquor, a term derived from the dram measurement by which alcohol used to be sold.

Most states have these laws, although Florida’s are not very strict. In most cases, a bar cannot be sued. In § 768.125, Florida code stipulates: “A person who sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person of lawful drinking age shall not thereby become liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such person.”

It does, however, provide a very limited legal avenue to sue an establishment that serves alcohol to a customer whose subsequent intoxication brings harm or fatally injures him- or herself, or someone else. This is covered under two exceptions to the dram shop liability rule.

Florida Dram Shop Laws: Limited Liability

The two exceptions to the rule – the cases in which an establishment can be held liable under Florida dram shop laws – are:

  • Sale to a Minor – if the establishment sells alcohol to a patron who is under 21, it can be held legally liable in a personal injury or wrongful death suit. Ignorance is no excuse. The seller doesn’t need to have knowledge that the person was a minor at the time of sale.
  • Sale to a “Habitually Addicted” Person – if the customer has a history of alcoholism and the establishment is aware of it, the seller may hold legal liability for any injuries resulting from the customer’s intoxication.

Proving a Dram Shop Violation

Dram shop liability can be quite for claimants to prove. Often, underage drinking occurs accidentally (on the part of the dispenser) and habitually addicted people usually hide this fact. Bar owners, nightclub owners, casinos, etc. will often use several defenses to accusations of dram shop liability, such as:

  • claiming that the minor provided a fake I.D., misrepresenting his or her actual age; or
  • that there is insufficient evidence to prove the patron was a known habitual alcoholic.

Such issues may be addressed by the attorneys handling the dram shop liability case. In the meantime, drivers facing charges of drunk driving and who must build a defense against a DUI case should seek legal representation of their own from a criminal defense attorney.

Attorney Help with a DUI Case

If accused of drunk driving that causes injury to another driver, pedestrian, etc., the individual or his/her family may pursue compensation under dram shop law from an establishment that served alcohol. For help with defense, call 954-861-0384 to contact Robert David Malove about building a case.