Your Legal Rights at Work

Proving That A Business Violated Dram Shop Laws

by Lewis Hamilton

Most states have dram shop laws prohibiting businesses from selling alcohol to people in excess or to those who are already intoxicated. These laws also let people who are hurt in accidents caused by drunk drivers to hold the businesses who sold alcohol to intoxicated persons liable for some of the damages. However, proving the business knew or should have known the individual was intoxicated can be challenging. Read more to discover two ways you can show that the business in question violated dram shop laws.

Check the Video

One way to prove a person was too intoxicated to continue being served alcohol is to check any video that may be available. There are certain signs of intoxication that may be readily evident on a video, such as lack of coordination and slurred speech (if audio is available).

It may also be possible to tell how many drinks a person has consumed within a certain amount of time, which may help you approximate how drunk the person was when he or she was being served. For instance, a 160-pound person who consumes 4 beers in a short period of time would have a blood alcohol level of 0.8, which is over the legal limit to drive. If the bartender continues serving the person after that, then the company he or she works for may be held liable for any accident the individual causes.

Try to obtain video from as many sources as possible. In addition to getting a copy of any surveillance the business may have on the property, look for videos the defendant (or the person's friends) may have uploaded to his or her social media accounts on the night in question.

Use Sales Receipts

Another way you could possibly prove a business served an intoxicated person is to acquire copies of any sales receipts. These receipts can show you how many drinks the person was served during his or her time at the facility, which can help you approximate how intoxicated the individual was and whether or not the business should have stopped serving the person. While this piece of evidence may not be a silver bullet, it can strengthen your overall case when combined with other pieces of evidence, such a video surveillance or witness testimony.

It's important to note that people respond to alcohol differently, and it may not always be readily evident a person is intoxicated. For instance, a person who consumes alcohol on a regular basis may be able to drink a lot before he or she begins exhibiting signs of intoxication. This is something you need to factor in when making a case that the business violated dram shop laws.

For more information about this issue or help with litigating a case against a business who served an intoxicated person, contact a personal injury attorney.