Dram Shop Liability in Texas

Realizing the danger that intoxicated drivers pose to themselves and others, the State of Texas has taken a hard line on the selling of alcoholic beverages to already intoxicated adults and minors. To curtail the service and sale of alcohol to those who pose a risk to society, the Texas legislature passed Section 2.02 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, which is more commonly known as the Texas Dram Shop Act. 

Texas Dram Shop Act Explained

A "dram shop" is any establishment—a bar, a restaurant, liquor store, convenience store, et cetera—that sells alcoholic beverages. The Texas Dram Shop Act accomplishes the following:

  • Makes a declaration that the Act DOES NOT prohibit anyone from suing a dram shop for damages that were indirectly caused by the serving of alcohol to a drunken adult or a minor. 
  • States that a TX license to serve alcoholic beverages can be revoked under the Act, if "at the time the provision occurred it was apparent to the provider that the individual being sold, served, or provided with an alcoholic beverage was obviously intoxicated to the extent that he presented a clear danger to himself and others AND damages resulted (i.e. a personal injury to another or property damage).
  • Places the liability on an adult who is twenty-one years of age, who is not that minor's parent, legal guardian, spouse, or court-appointed custodian, and knowingly serves or allows the minor to be served alcohol. 

Practical Examples of Civil Dram Shop Actions

  • A Fort Worth woman is seriously injured in a car accident that's caused by a drunk driver. If it can be shown that the driver was over-served at a Dallas bar, her attorney can bring a personal injury action against the establishment, even if it was already punished by having its license revoked.
  • A parent that allows alcohol to be served to high school seniors at a graduation party can be sued if one of the guests gets in a car and strikes a pedestrian while driving back to his or her home in Irving. 
  • A woman is struck by the driver of a pickup truck who is returning from a "beer run" from a Dallas convenience store. If this is the third time that the driver purchased beer a twelve-pack of beer in the past few hours, and each time the driver appeared more intoxicated, a Dallas personal injury attorney could make a solid case based on Texas's past Dram Shop liability court decisions.

If you or a family member has been injured or killed by a drunk driver, you should contact a Texas personal injury attorney immediately. Delays can result in a loss of evidence and a diminishment in the viability of the personal injury case. A Texas P.I. lawyer will recognize exactly which dram shop, if any, should be named in a lawsuit.