The Caldarone Law Group, P.A.

Understanding dram shop liability

With the harsh penalties that can result from a drunk driving conviction, many in Naples might wonder why people would even chance getting behind the wheel after drinking. Yet statistics show that many of those who drive drunk may not ever be caught. Indeed, information shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the $1 million people who were arrested in the U.S. on DUI charges in 2016 only represented a fraction of the 111 million who admit to driving drunk every year. 

Many might view knowingly driving while intoxicated is the ultimate form of carelessness, yet what about those who help them get drunk? Often, a person’s drinks will be furnished by a host or the staff at a bar. Should those people or parties share in the liability when one that they provide alcohol to causes a car accident? 

Dram shop liability is a type of vicarious liability that allows accident victims to pursue claims against establishments or private parties that contribute to a drunk driver’s intoxication. Yet the fact that a person who causes an accident was provided alcohol by another does not necessarily mean that such a scenario falls under the scope of Florida’s dram shop law. 

Per Florida’s state statutes, a commercial establishment (or members of its staff) or private parties cannot be held responsible for the actions of a drunk driver (http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0768/Sections/0768.125.html whom they served alcohol) unless they did so knowing that the consumer was minor or that the consumer had an alcohol addiction, yet despite knowing this continued to to still serve them. 

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