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Dram Shop Laws in Alabama Explained


Many of us have never heard the term “dram shop” before, let alone know anything about the laws attached to it. The term “dram shop” comes from the 18th century and is the old British way of measuring alcohol, which was called a “dram.” Dram shops were the bars, pubs, and taverns that served drams of alcohol.

In the US, each state has its own statutes when it comes to dram shop regulations. This article will go over the dram shop laws in Alabama and how they affect those who get charged, the circumstances therein and other important and helpful information.

Who/What Does a Dram Shop Law Protect?

In Alabama, liquor liability laws, also called dram shop laws, protect individuals who have been injured due to the illegal sale of alcohol. This is called the Dram Shop Act. The purpose of Alabama’s Dram Shop Act (Ala. Code § 6-5-71) is to hold a business accountable if they have overserved or have failed to take the necessary steps to sell alcohol in a safe manner. These laws also allow the individual party to sue the business that was responsible for giving or selling the alcohol that caused harm.

Liability Under Dram Shop Laws

Bars, restaurants and other businesses that sell alcohol may be held liable for serving or providing alcohol to a person who is/appears to be intoxicated and then subsequently injures someone (re: drunk driving accident.) Any business that serves alcohol to a minor may face up to a year in jail and a fine ranging from $100 to $1,000. Alabama’s Dram Shop Act is intended to punish establishments which continue serving alcohol to drunk people with knowledge the individuals are already intoxicated and in turn, stop businesses from doing the same by example, thus saving lives in the process.

Accountability and Victim’s Rights

These specific laws are in place to hold businesses accountable and liable for serving or selling alcohol to minors or intoxicated persons who later cause death, injury, or property damage to another person. These laws save lives, as well as help to keep businesses honest and responsible when serving alcohol. 

Dram shop laws also enable third-party victims of drunken behavior to file civil lawsuits against the business, the wait staff, or the store clerk for selling alcohol to minors or intoxicated persons. The victims may also bring suit against the intoxicated individual who caused harm as well. If you have been injured or otherwise hurt someway by someone breaking the dram shop laws, it is imperative for you to find an attorney so that you can begin the process of taking them to courts and filing a civil suit.

Recovering Damages in A Dram Shop Claim

When a person believes an establishment has served an intoxicated person or minor then who caused injury or the wrongful death of a loved one, they should immediately get in contact with an attorney who has experience with accidents and cases such as these. An attorney will fight to help you recover costs that you paid out of pocket and get you compensation for other damages as well, such as:

  • Medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of future earning ability (can’t work/make money)
  • Emotional distress
  • Pain and suffering

Dram Shop Penalties for Driving Drunk 

Criminal charges for drunk drivers are usually part of the charges given when someone violates a dram shop law. In addition to being charged with a DUI (driving under the influence Ala. Code, § 32-5A-191), drunk drivers who cause serious injury to others while driving are also likely to be charged with first degree assault. Depending on the situation, if the drunk driver has also acted recklessly with the car, they can be charged with assault as well.

Have You Been Hurt or Experienced Loss Due to Drunk Driving?

Need a quality attorney to help you navigate a complicated case? Not only do you need a lawyer who understands what you’re going through and has experience you are looking for, you also want a lawyer who will give you the best legal services possible.
At Brackin Law Firm, that’s exactly what we do. For over 35 years, we’ve helped the people of Baldwin County with all of their civil cases, criminal defense, personal injury, road accident, family law, elder law, eviction, and estate planning needs. Contact us today and let us put our expertise to work for you.

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