DRAM Shop Laws and DUI Offenses

Posted by James Ferguson | Mar 15, 2019 | 0 Comments

A DRAM Shop Law is a little known type of statute that dictates whether the seller of alcohol is liable for any injuries caused by the patron. DRAM Shop laws are not widely known in the world of DUI charges and convictions. However, in the states that do permit the use of a DRAM Shop Law, it makes quite a difference in who receives DUI charges for a particular harm and who is civilly liable. Mississippi is a state that has enacted a DRAM Shop statute.

What are DRAM Shop Laws?
A DRAM Shop Law is a statute that makes a business that sells alcoholic drinks or a host who serves liquor to an obviously intoxicated person strictly liable to anyone who is injured by the drunken patron or guest. Presently, about 38 states have DRAM Shop Laws on the books. These states include Mississippi, Alabama, Colorado, California, and Florida. Some states differ from each other as to how the laws applies. For example, California recently passed a statute that bans strict liability. Strict liability means that as long as the act is committed, the court will apply liability regardless of the intention, motive of the actor, or what knowledge they were lacking when the action was taken. California passed its statute banning strict liability because it is often hard to prove that the liquor bought or served was the specific cause of the harm in question. In essence, the California legislature is acknowledging that there could always be an intervening cause.

Effect of DRAM Shop Laws on DUI Charges
As discussed above, states that have DRAM Shop statutes apply them differently. It is important to note that DRAM Shop statutes can implicate both criminal and civil liability. Therefore, states who have these laws can make it so the offender shares liability with the host or business. In the alternative, a DRAM Shop statute can implicate a separate charge on its own. For example, if a DUI offender injures a motorist, he or she is charged with a DUI and any other offenses attached to the injury. In a state that adheres to a criminal DRAM Shop Law, the business that served alcohol to the motorist can be subject to a seperate charge of criminal negligence.

Mississippi's Stance on DRAM Shop Laws
As mentioned, Mississippi is one of the 38 states with a DRAM Shop statute, but enforces it in its own way. For example, Mississippi only permits civil liability. Unlike other states, Mississippi does not permit strict liability. Instead, Mississippi requires that the sale of the alcohol be a proximate cause of the harm or injury sustained by another.

Your DUI Attorney
Attorney James Robert Ferguson is an experienced DUI attorney with years of experience defending DUI cases. Driving Under the Influence is a serious crime. If you have been charged with DUI, you need an experienced attorney. Attorney Ferguson is well-versed is niche areas of DUI law including DRAM Shop liability. Attorney Ferguson understands the importance of putting the charge behind you. Call us now for a consultation.

See related blog posts:
DUI Penalties in Mississippi
Underage Alcohol-Related Offenses and Penalties

About the Author

James Ferguson

I was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. During college, I studied at East Tennessee State University, where I received a Bachelor's in Criminal Justice, which I then followed up with a Master's in Criminology from the University of Memphis. Before beginning my legal career, I worked as a Project Coordinator at the University of Memphis, where I assisted in training law enforcement officers in the Memphis Model of Crisis Intervention Training. The purpose of the project was to provide officers with the tools to deal with citizens in a state of mental crisis. I then went on to study law at the Mississippi College School of Law in Jackson. During law school, I clerked with Victor W. Carmody, Jr., the lawyer who wrote the book on DUI law in Mississippi. I am currently licensed to practice law in both Tennessee and Mississippi, and spend a majority of my time traveling the highways and biways of Mississippi defending those who have been charged with a DUI.


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