Dram shop laws are laws that hold commercial establishments, such as bars and restaurants, liable for injuries or damages caused by patrons who were served alcohol while already visibly intoxicated.
The term “dram shop” comes from the old English unit of measurement for alcohol, which was referred to as a “dram.” These laws exist to encourage responsible alcohol service and hold establishments accountable for their actions.
Dram shop laws in Illinois are governed by the Dram Shop Act. The Act holds commercial establishments liable for injuries or damages caused by patrons who were served alcohol while already visibly intoxicated.
This means that if a patron is served alcohol while visibly intoxicated and then causes injuries or damages as a result of their intoxication, the establishment that served them can be held liable.
What Does Illinois’ Dram Shop Law Regulate?
The Illinois Dram Shop Act regulates the sale and service of alcohol by commercial establishments. This includes bars, restaurants, and any other establishment that serves alcohol.
The Act holds these establishments responsible under Illinois dram shop liability for injuries or damages caused by patrons who were served alcohol while already visibly intoxicated.
The Act also specifically states that an establishment can be held liable if they serve alcohol to a minor. This means that if a bar or restaurant serves alcohol to someone under the age of 21, they can be held liable for any injuries or damages caused by that person as a result of their intoxication.
Additionally, the Act holds both the owner and employee of the establishment liable for serving alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person. This means that not only can the establishment be held liable, but also the individual employees who served the alcohol can be held liable as well.
Are There Limits on Damages That Can Be Recovered From an Illinois Dram Shop Case?
Yes, there are Illinois dram shop limits on the damages that can be recovered from an Illinois dram shop case. The Illinois Dram Shop Act limits the amount of damages that can be recovered to $75,000. This means that an injured party can only recover up to $75,000 in damages from a commercial establishment that served alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person.
This amount is relatively low compared to other dram shop laws by state. For example, in Texas, the limit is $250,000, and in New Hampshire, there is no limit.
Does Illinois’ Dram Shop Law Contain Any Special Provisions?
Yes, Illinois’ dram shop law contains a few special provisions. One of these is the “good faith defense.” This defense states that if an establishment can prove that they had a good faith belief that the patron was not visibly intoxicated at the time of service, they cannot be held liable.
Another special provision is the “voluntary intoxication defense.” This defense states that if a patron voluntarily becomes intoxicated, the establishment cannot be held liable for any injuries or damages caused by that person as a result of their intoxication.
Can a Bar Be Liable for a DUI in Illinois?
In Illinois, a bar can be held liable for a DUI (driving under the influence) under certain circumstances.
The state’s dram shop laws hold commercial establishments such as bars and restaurants liable for injuries or damages caused by patrons who were served alcohol while already visibly intoxicated.
This means that if a patron is served alcohol while visibly intoxicated and then causes a DUI or any other injuries or damages as a result of their intoxication, the establishment that served them can be held liable.
It is important to note that in order for a bar to be held liable for a DUI, the patron must have been visibly intoxicated at the time of service. This means that the patron’s intoxication must have been obvious and that the establishment should have known that the person was too drunk to drive.
Additionally, the bar must have served alcohol to the patron with the knowledge that the patron would soon be driving.
It is also important to note that under Illinois law, the bar’s liability is limited to $75,000, and the bar must be able to prove that the patron was not visibly intoxicated at the time of service.
It is always best to consult with a lawyer who specializes in Illinois dram shop laws to determine whether a bar may be liable for a DUI in a specific situation.
What Should I Do to Protect Myself Under Illinois Dram Shop Laws?
There are several steps that commercial establishments, such as bars and restaurants, can take to protect themselves under Illinois dram shop laws:
- Train employees: Train your employees on responsible alcohol service, including how to identify and refuse service to visibly intoxicated patrons. It’s also essential to train employees on recognizing and preventing the service of alcohol to minors.
- Implement policies and procedures: Develop and implement policies and procedures for responsible alcohol service, including procedures for refusing service to visibly intoxicated patrons and minors. Make sure your employees are aware of these policies and that they understand the importance of following them.
- Document patron behavior: Keep detailed records of the behavior of patrons who are served alcohol. This can include notes on how much alcohol was consumed, how it was consumed, and any signs of visible intoxication. This documentation will be important in the event of a lawsuit.
- Have a plan in place: Have a plan in place for handling situations where a patron becomes visibly intoxicated. This may include having a designated employee responsible for cutting off service and calling for a taxi or designated driver.
- Have liability insurance: Consider purchasing liability insurance that covers dram shop claims. This will provide financial protection in case of a lawsuit.
- Hire an attorney: Consult with an attorney who specializes in Illinois dram shop laws to ensure that your business is in compliance with all state and local laws and regulations.
It is important to keep in mind that Illinois dram shop laws hold commercial establishments liable for injuries or damages caused by patrons who were served alcohol while already visibly intoxicated.
By taking the above steps, you can protect yourself and your business by ensuring that you are following all laws and regulations and that your employees are trained to serve alcohol responsibly.
Should I Hire an Illinois Lawyer for a Dram Shop Issue?
If you are involved in a dram shop issue, whether as an injured party or as an establishment facing a lawsuit, it is important to consult with an Illinois lawyer who specializes in dram shop laws. These laws can be complex and an experienced lawyer can help navigate the legal process and ensure that your rights are protected.
Furthermore, hiring an Illinois business attorney can help protect your establishment from any potential liability and provide you with legal representation in case of a lawsuit. It is always best to consult with a lawyer before taking any action in a dram shop case to ensure that you are making the best decisions for your situation.
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