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What exactly is dram shop law?

Dram shop laws have been around for many years. States passed such laws in hopes of reducing unnecessary injuries from those who simply drink too much.

But what exactly are they and who are they intended to protect?

In basic terms, dram shop laws impose liability on bars or similar commercial entities that serve minors or overintoxicated individuals who later harm someone as a result.

Such liability is referred to as dram shop, in the name of a shop that sold alcohol (also referred to as spirits) by the dram, or small quantity.

Each state, however, has different variations on the law and liability.

For instance, many states, including Florida, impose what's referred to as strict liability on entities that serve alcohol to a minor if that minor later causes injury to a third party.

If, for instance, a server at a tavern fails to appropriately check a patron's identification and that patron turned out to be under the legal drinking age of 21, the tavern could be liable if that patron leaves the establishment, gets behind the wheel of a car and injures a pedestrian.

It wouldn't matter if the server of the tavern didn't know the patron was a minor, the entity could still be responsible-hence the phrase strict liability.

Given the nuances of the law, dram shop liability will always depend on individual circumstances. Parties or loves ones of parties who were injured as a result of an intoxicated individual or minor should consult with a personal injury attorney with knowledge and experience in this area of law.

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