Dram Shop Lawyer | Overserved Alcohol

dram shop lawyer overserved at bar Injury Caused By Overserving

Overserved At A Bar – Lawyers for Victims of DWI/DUI Crashes

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After a night of partying and drinking with friends, it is the responsibility of the person who will be driving to make sure they are not intoxicated before getting behind the wheel. However, according to the Dram Shop Act, alcohol-serving establishments such as bars, restaurants, and clubs, may also share this responsibility. Anyone licensed to serve alcohol is legally required to ensure they are not putting their customers and their community in danger by serving people after they are already obviously intoxicated.

If you or someone you love suffered an injury caused by overserving of alcohol, a Dram Shop lawyer from our firm can help. We offer free, no-obligation consultations. Contact us today! We care, we can help.


In 1987, The Texas statute known as the Dram Shop Act became a law that holds an alcohol establishment liable for injuries resulting from the over-consumption of alcohol due to being over-served. The Dram Shop law is sometimes cited after a drunk driver is involved in a serious car collision but it can apply to other situations such as a slip and fall or injury due to a bar fight. A provider of alcoholic beverages can be liable for damages if there is proof that:

  • An individual was obviously intoxicated to the extent he/she presented a clear danger to themselves and others at the time the provider sold or served them alcohol, and;
  • The serving of the alcohol was the specific cause of the damages and injuries sustained

The Dram Shop Act provides that the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) can revoke the alcohol permit of a provider who violates the statute.

Why are overserving laws important?

Overserving alcohol to an intoxicated person is a negligent act, especially if that negligence leads to serious injuries or death because of a DUI or DWI. Further, overserving alcohol can lead to alcohol poisoning. 

Can I be held liable if a guest leaves my party drunk?

Yes. According to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, overserving laws apply to social events at private residences as well.  In fact, providing, selling, or serving an alcoholic beverage can make a person or business liable when they give alcohol to a person 18 years of age or older under the following conditions: 

  1. It was apparent, at the time, to the provider that the individual being sold, served or provided alcohol that was obviously intoxicated and a danger to themselves or others.
  2. The intoxication of the recipient of the alcoholic beverage was the cause of the damages suffered. 

The same applies to an adult who is 21 years of age or older and supplies alcohol to a minor. 

If you or a loved one suffered injuries because of a negligent host, contact The Carlson Law Firm. A qualified Dram Shop Lawyer can help you determine your next step.

Why Dram Shop Laws Exist

Texas is not the only state that has the dram shop law; this law exists in almost every state. There have been misconceptions suggesting Dram Shop laws exist to remove accountability from the driver. This is not correct. Dram Shop laws make it possible for a victim of a drunk driving accident to file a lawsuit against an establishment for their part of the liability. Their portion of liability is due to the negligence that occurred while over-serving alcohol.

Legal Alcohol Limits

All US states set the legal BAC limit at .08 percent. Alcohol slows down a person’s reflexes making it harder to react in time and avoid being involved in a collision.

The limit in a bar is “obvious intoxication” or “visibly intoxicated.” Drinking establishments are not allowed to serve anyone who is “obviously intoxicated” more alcohol. What does this actually mean? Although everyone’s body processes alcohol differently, many signs of intoxication are clear and easy to spot including:

  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty finishing thoughts or sentences
  • Incoherent speech
  • Glassy eyes
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Stumbling or falling
  • Impaired fine-motor skills
  • Poor coordination
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Impaired judgment


In Texas, a licensed alcohol selling establishment can be held liable for the proportion of responsibility a jury assigns them. The best practices for cutting someone off when they’ve had to much include the following tips:

Have backup

Tell the manager and other bartenders that you’re cutting someone off just in case the customer does not take it well.

Ask for help

Communicate with the customer’s friends and explain that he or she has had too much to drink.

Keep calm

Explain your policies as you are telling someone they’ve been cut off. Avoid being confrontational.

Stand firm

The customer will more than likely ask you for “just one more.” Your judgment protects you, stand firm with your gut feeling.

Call security

Many times intoxicated people don’t respond with the best judgment, especially when they are being denied more alcohol. If your customer gets violent, call your establishment’s security or the police immediately.

If an employee notices an over-served patron, it would be a good idea to call a taxi in order to prevent the drunken individual from being harmed in a DWI collision.

What Is The Safe Harbour Defense

Liability under the Texas Dram Shop Act can be avoided by a bar, restaurant, hotel, convenience store or another seller of alcoholic beverages even if an employee’s actions violated the act. There is a clause in the Texas Dram Shop Act which protects drinking establishments from civil claims in such cases. The employer must be able to prove that they followed guidelines set by the state. In addition, they must meet three requirements to take advantage of this “safe harbor:”

  1. The employer required all employees to attend a TABC seller training program
  2. The employee attended and completed the program
  3. Proof that the employer did not encourage the employee to violate the law directly or indirectly

Establishments should keep documentation detailing training, documentation that all employees attended TABC program, and written policies regarding over-serving customers to protect themselves with proof in case a potential lawsuit against them ever arises.

Business owners may be concerned about losing revenue from the drinks that are being denied as a result of cutting off a customer. The perspective should be that any loss of revenue would not be greater than the legal fees and damages that could possibly result from serving an obviously intoxicated person another drink.

What Damages can be recovered for dram shop claims?

An injured person can file a case against a business or individual who provided alcohol to the party responsible for their injuries. Common recoverable damages include the following:

  • Medical bills
  • Lost wages (past and future)
  • Compensation for lost or damaged property
  • Pain and suffering

If you were severely injured in a DUI car crash, contact The Carlson Law Firm. Our attorneys can help determine liability if a bar or restaurant overserved the negligent driver.


Here at The Carlson Law Firm, we believe that profits should never come before the safety of the community. Don’t let another day pass without the knowledge and aggressive representation of our Dram Shop law attorneys as there is a statute of limitations of two years in which a Dram Shop claim must be filed in a Texas court.

If you suffered an injury caused by overserving of alcohol, a dram shop lawyer from our team can help. We offer free, no-obligation consultations. Contact us today! We care. We can help.

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