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Making Sense of California Dram Shop Laws

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.

Why are California Dram Shops Laws Guarded?

Legislators say their reasoning is simple.

If an intoxicated person gets into an accident after consuming alcohol at a bar, it’s too hard to prove that the business establishment actually caused the accident by serving the person alcohol.

It’s the consumption of alcohol, not the serving of alcohol, that causes a drunk driving accident – therefore the intoxicated person is held liable.

Hire a California Lawyer for a Dram Shop Claim

Even though California dram shop laws are limited, dram shop claims do occur. If you were served alcohol by a business – or if you are a San Diego-area business owner facing a dram shop claim, it’s important that you hire a San Diego attorney to sort out any legal action that is required. This is especially important if the claim involves the sale of alcohol to a minor.

Dram shop violations are complicated. Get representation from an attorney – like San Diego Personal Injury Attorney Steven Elia – who can  provide more information if there is a legal basis for the dram shop claim.

Need a lawyer eight for Dram shop violations or if are a business in the San Diego area needing an ABC Liquor License, we do that too. It’s quick, easy, and inexpensive.  Call us.

Steven Elia

Steven Elia

Mr. Elia has extensive litigation experience having appeared at more than 1,000 civil hearings including jury and bench trials, over 500 depositions, and hundreds of mediations. Some of his cases have made national headlines. He specializes in personal injury, business law and civil litigation in and around San Diego.