Dram shop laws and drunk driving accidents

The term “dram shop” can be traced back to 18th century literature and refers to an establishment that serves or sells liquor. It can be a bar, pub, saloon, liquor store, or even a restaurant. A dram is a small liquid unit of measure, and dram shops are often watched closely when it comes to determining who is responsible for drunk driving accidents.

Responsibility In Drunk Driving Accidents

When a person is injured or killed in a car accident where alcohol played a role, the drunk driver is the first person to be held under suspicion and asked to take responsibility for any damage they have caused. Whether drunk driving results in an injury or not, it is widely know that driving drunk is a dangerous and illegal practice. But sometimes responsibility extends beyond the driver and looks to whoever and whatever establishment may have contributed to that person being intoxicated at the level that they were. In many states, including Massachusetts, dram shop laws are in place to hold those responsible who might serve a person alcohol who is obviously intoxicated. In Massachusetts the law is aimed to protect third parties who are injured as a result of a drunk driving related accident, or to punish establishments who serve to minors, whether they are intoxicated or not, Cases are filed in superior court under the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure. An intoxicated person can’t sue a dram shop in Massachusetts for their own injuries caused by their own intoxication or impaired behavior.

Fortunately, dram shop laws, such as the one in Massachusetts are making an impact in reducing the number drunk driving related incidents involving public drinking. According to research conducted by Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD), it was discovered that states with dram shop laws were less likely to serve minors, and had experienced a reduction in fatal crashes due to alcohol. The dram shop’s liability doesn’t replace the impaired driver’s liability, it casts a wider net of responsibility in order to prevent additional accidents and save lives.

If You Are Injured By A Drunk Driver

If you or a loved one is in an accident caused by an intoxicated driver, it is important that the incident be fully investigated so that all parties that played a role in those injuries are held responsible and you can have the best chance of getting the compensation you need and deserve. Those who do want to go after a dram shop, it is important to move quickly, because charges must be made within 90 days. An attorney will first look at the driver, and will follow up by finding out who last served the driver alcohol, and investigate whether they should have been able to tell that they were serving someone already drunk while there is still time to hold everyone responsible.


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