Illinois Dram Shop Laws

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What is the definition of a dram shop law?

Dram shop laws make bars and other liquor-selling establishments liable for injuries that are caused by intoxicated persons to whom they have served alcoholic beverages. The bar or tavern owner may be held liable for damages and injuries to third parties that were the result of their patron’s intoxication. Dram shop laws usually prohibit the sale of alcohol to persons who are obviously intoxicated, and they prohibit the sale of alcohol to minors as well. 
 
Most states have some form of dram shop law in effect. However, they vary widely in their scope and application from state to state.   

What does Illinois’ dram shop law regulate?

Illinois’ dram shop law is entitled the “Liquor Control Act”. According to the act, commercial establishments are held liable for any damages or injuries caused by intoxicated persons if it can be proven that:
 
Illinois’ dram shop law is somewhat unique among state laws. This is because there is no requirement that the business have knowledge or reason to know that the person was already intoxicated. This is very different from other states which require at least a general suspicion that the person is visibly intoxicated. 
 
Thus, the Illinois dram shop act allows plaintiffs to recover from multiple establishments. For example, if an intoxicated person had drinks at several different bars and then struck a person with their automobile, the injured person may recover from each bar if they can satisfy the above requirements for each defendant. 

Does Illinois’ Dram Shop law contain any special provisions?

Yes- Illinois’ dram shop law also contains special provisions regarding the law’s applicability across state lines. The Illinois dram shop act is only enforced across state lines if the neighboring state also has a similar dram shop act. 
 
For example, suppose a person consumed alcoholic beverages at an Illinois bar, then drove across state lines through the state of Kentucky, where they caused an accident which resulted in injuries to a third party. In this case, the Illinois bar will be liable for any injuries caused across state lines only if Kentucky has a dram shop law which is similar to that of Illinois. However, if Kentucky does not have a dram shop law in effect, then the Illinois bar will not be held liable at all.    
 
Thus, since many states do not have a dram shop law, the application of Illinois dram shop liability across state lines tends to be very limited.

Should I hire an Illinois lawyer for a dram shop issue?

Legal issues regarding dram shop violations are very serious, because they often involve multiple parties and serious injuries. A dram shop claim can quickly become complicated if it involves multiple business establishments or injuries caused in another state. 
 
For these reasons, it is important that you work closely with a competent Illinois attorney, whether you were a patron, the injured party, or associated with the business establishment. A lawyer can help ensure that all the court requirements and documents are submitted in a timely manner. 

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Last Modified: 07-13-2010 02:35 PM PDT

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