Dram shop laws – statutes that hold businesses liable for selling alcoholic beverages to a person who is obviously intoxicated – are firmly in place in most U.S. states. In California, however, dram shop laws are fairly limited.
The purpose of any kind of dram shop law is to increase the responsibility of those who make profits by selling alcoholic drinks to guests. The word “dram” refers to a British unit of measurement for serving alcohol.
California Dram Shop Laws
Here in California, new legislation has removed the strict liability for businesses who serve alcohol to patrons. Basically, liquor stores or bars may NOT be held civilly liable for selling alcohol to people who have had obviously too much to drink. BUT, these establishments may still be held liable for serving alcohol to MINORS who are visibly intoxicated.
Here’s the tricky part. In California, liquor stores and bars may still be subject to criminal misdemeanor charges in severe drunken sales cases. In these matters, the owner of the bar or liquor store may be liable for damages to the injured person.