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Dram Shop Law in Texas: Your Guide

Through dram shop law in Texas, our Houston personal injury lawyers help you hold establishments accountable when they overserve patrons. If a drunk driver injured you or your loved one, schedule a free consultation with our team today. 

Texas Dram Shop Laws

Every driver understands how bad of an idea it is to drink too much and get behind the wheel. Yet, driving while intoxicated (DWI) is a fairly common arrest. Despite the harsh DWI laws in Texas, people continue to drink and drive. Moreover, anyone with experience in the service industry knows that serving too much to a customer is equally dangerous and also illegal. 

After an accident that involves a drunk driver, you might wonder who is legally responsible and liable for your injuries. When a bar overserves someone who then leaves and causes an auto accident, it opens a confusing door for liability. 

As experienced dram shop lawyers, we understand the complexity of these cases. With our expertise, we help victims navigate these laws in “Dram Shop” cases. 

What Is “Dram Shop”?

“Dram shop” refers to restaurants, bars, and similar commercial establishments that serve or sell alcoholic beverages. The main intent of dram shop law in Texas is to discourage instances of drunk driving and other crimes related to intoxication. 

When a bartender sees that a patron is drunk yet continues to serve them alcohol, there’s potential to hold that establishment liable for the patron’s actions. For instance, the patron might cause a fight on the street and assault someone or cause a car accident on their way home. 

Dram Shop Laws in Texas and Drunk Drivers

When a drunk driver crashes into another driver or a pedestrian, the victim has legal options. As with other negligent drivers, a lawyer helps you hold the drunk driver accountable. In Texas and many other states, dram shop laws enable you to sue an establishment that overserves people who go on to commit crimes while intoxicated. 

Essentially, this makes the “dram shop” (bar or restaurant) responsible for the actions of its patrons. Only eight states in the US do not have these laws in place. These are Virginia, South Dakota, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, Maryland, Kansas, and Delaware.

Navigating these laws is tricky. That’s why our Houston dram shop attorneys help victims understand and navigate their options to maximize their settlements. 

Applying Dram Shop Laws in Texas

According to Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code Ann. §2.01, an establishment is liable when it sells, provides, or serves an alcoholic beverage to a patron who is “obviously intoxicated” at the time of the transaction when that patron goes on to cause injuries or property damage due to their intoxication.

Dram shop law in Texas does not create liability for a “Social Host.” This includes individuals who serve guests in their own homes. However, there is one important exception to social host immunity. When a social host provides alcohol to a minor under 18 years old, the adult who knowingly contributes to the minor’s intoxication is responsible. 

So, when a bar overserves a patron who later causes a motor vehicle accident, who is responsible?

Unfortunately, as with most legal matters, “it depends.” In personal injury claims, it is possible to hold multiple parties liable for a person’s intoxication and any resulting damage. Who we hold liable depends on the facts of your case, though. 

When a drunk driver injures you or a loved one, it is vital to seek guidance from a lawyer. At our law firm, we offer personalized attention to each case. As such, we explore the facts of every case in order to determine liability and the best approach to maximize your settlement. 

What to Prove in a Dram Shop Lawsuit

In some states, establishments face automatic liability for injuries when they sell alcohol to an intoxicated individual. Under dram shop law in Texas, though, it’s a bit more difficult. 

In order to apply dram shop law in a personal injury claim, we have to prove that the patron was “obviously intoxicated.” Moreover, it’s important to prove that the servers in the establishment should have known they were selling alcohol to someone who was a potential risk. 

In Texas, the dram shop laws are complex. Moreover, Texas does not require establishments to carry Liquor Liability Insurance. This makes a dram shop case a minefield of sorts, with multiple pitfalls. 

When evaluating a case of this type, it requires the attorney and jury to balance a few key elements. 

  1. The potential fault of the intoxicated driver/patron
  2. The role and fault of the establishment 
  3. What role the plaintiff (victim) played

In a personal injury claim in Texas, the fault is applicable to multiple parties. With a prompt and thorough investigation, you have a better chance to prove your case. 

Potential Proof Under Dram Shop Law in Texas

Proving that a bartender overserved someone is difficult. It’s rare that a server freely admits to this. Oftentimes, it requires a combination of circumstantial evidence and witness testimony. At times, a toxicology expert helps to explain the situation to a jury.

Here are a few examples of evidence of intoxication. 

  • Slurred speech 
  • A lack of steadiness 
  • Bloodshot eyes  
  • Smell of alcohol on the breath
  • A third party telling the server the patron was drinking
  • The patron consumed an amount of alcohol that would cause an average person to be intoxicated.

Additionally, it’s essential to prove that the sale of alcohol became a “proximate cause of your injuries. Typically, this step is simple when a drunk driver causes a motor vehicle accident. 

Can I File a Lawsuit Under Dram Shop Law in Texas?

Dram shop law in Texas protects a broad range of people. This includes the following. 

  • Pedestrians and drivers hit by a drunk driver 
  • Passengers riding with an intoxicated driver 
  • The drunk driver themselves

Oftentimes, that last one surprises you. However, it’s entirely true. Pursuant to its state-authorized liquor license, a dram shop bears specific responsibilities to its patrons. They have to provide proper service under the law. 

When a drunk driver injures themself in a collision, they have the option to pursue legal action against the establishment that overserved them. Again, the facts of the case are important. 

That’s why it is crucial to partner with an experienced dram shop lawyer in Houston. 

Houston Auto Accident Attorneys Who Understand Dram Shop Laws

When you or a loved one sustains an injury in a motor vehicle accident caused by a drunk driver, you have options. It’s important to hold the liable parties accountable for their actions. 

Although a drunk driver is clearly liable, a pub that overserves its patrons is also potentially liable. In such a case, you have the option to sue both. 

Dram shop law in Texas is complicated. To navigate it and maximize your settlement, you need an experienced personal injury attorney who understands drunk driving cases. At Universal Law Group, we serve victims throughout the Greater Houston Area. 

Schedule a free consultation with our team today and learn more about your options.