Florida Dram Shop Laws

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What are dram shop laws?

A dram shop law or act imposes liability on drinking establishments such as bars and taverns (“dram shops”) who serve alcohol to patrons who are already visibly or obviously intoxicated. Drinking establishments may have to pay damages to third parties who are injured by the people whom they sold alcohol to. 
 
While serving alcohol to minors is already illegal, dram shop laws also impose additional penalties for bars who serve alcohol to minors who are visibly intoxicated. 

Does Florida have a dram shop law?

Yes, Florida’s dram shop statute is found at Florida’s Statutes, section 768.125. However, Florida’s dram shop law is very limited in its scope and application.
 
Under the law, individuals or businesses who sell alcohol will generally not be held liable for damages or injuries caused by a drunk person who they sold alcohol to. This is especially true for liquor stores, since it is difficult to prove that the establishment was the cause of any injuries sustained by a third party.   
 
However, Florida businesses are held liable under two exceptions to this rule, which involve:
 
·        The sale of alcohol to a minor: Bars and taverns will be held strictly liable for injuries caused by the tender of alcohol to a person who is under 21 years of age. “Strictly liable” means that the employee need not have any knowledge that the person was under aged at the time of they sold the alcoholic beverage
·        The sale of alcohol to a person who is known to be “habitually addicted” to alcohol: Similarly, establishments will be held liable if they serve alcohol to a person who is known to have a history of addiction to alcohol. Courts have held that such persons create a “foreseeable risk of injury” because they lack the capability to make responsible decisions regarding drinking
 
Thus, as you can see, dram shop liability is heavily limited in Florida.  Drinking establishments in Florida may not be held liable for the injuries of others except under the circumstances mentioned above.
 
Finally, although a drinking establishment may not be held liable under civil law, there may be other repercussions under criminal laws, for example, if the business owner was negligent or reckless in providing the alcohol. 

Do I need a Florida lawyer for a dram shop law violation?

Whether you are the person who was injured, the person who was served alcohol, or the institution that served the alcohol, dram shop violations are serious matter because they often involve the interests of several parties. An experienced attorney can help you prepare your case in the event that representation is needed in a court of law.
 

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Last Modified: 07-13-2010 02:30 PM PDT

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