This Holiday Season Understand Indiana’s Dram Shop Laws as a Business Owner and as a Patron

dram shop laws

What you’ll learn reading this article:

  • The holiday season is upon us – business owners should review their responsibility and patrons should know their rights as they relate to Indiana’s dram shop liability laws.
  • Indiana’s dram shop liability laws affect social hosts such as private event businesses and caterers as well as business owners licensed to serve or sell alcohol.
  • More than 14,000 people in Indiana were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol – you or someone you love could be injured or harmed by this recklessness.

Never Heard of Dram Shops? 

Chances are, you’ve visited one – like your favorite restaurant or bar. Dram shop is an old-world term that originates in 18th century England. Back then, people are served gin by the spoonful, called a dram. Eventually the places where people could get their dram of spirits are referred to as dram shops. The name still sticks today – at least legally.

If you operate a commercial business where alcohol is served or sold, like a restaurant, bar, saloon, tavern or liquor store, you are probably familiar with dram shop laws. These laws have little to do with securing a liquor license. Dram shop liability is another name for liquor liability in the event of injury or harm caused by an intoxicated person. It means your business could be held liable for selling or serving alcohol to people who cause injuries or death as a result of their intoxication.

Dram shop laws can apply to more than just the owners of businesses licensed to serve or sell alcohol to patrons. The laws also apply to social hosts and private event businesses such as caterers who serve liquor to an obviously drunk guest who then causes injury or death due to their drunken state.

Proving Fault Under Liquor Liability Law in Indiana

Indiana is one of the 43 states and the District of Columbia that has dram shop liability laws in effect. The laws are in place to allow those injured or killed in drunk driving and other accidents caused by intoxicated persons to hold the retailers and suppliers of the alcohol responsible for damages. Licensed Indiana business owners are not found liable simply for serving alcohol to a person who is 21 or older (the legal drinking age in Indiana). The business owner can be found liable if they choose to serve with negligence, meaning they choose to serve alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person who gets into an accident after leaving their place of business and harms someone.  

According to the Indiana Code (Section 7.1-5-10-15.5), an individual who furnishes (or supplies) alcohol to an individual who then causes injury or harm to another is only liable for those injuries if: 

  • the supplier had knowledge that the intoxicated individual was intoxicated at the time of supplying 
  • the intoxication was a cause of the injuries

Hit By A Drunk Driver in Indianapolis? Know Your Rights

While it is imperative for local restaurant and bar owners, as well as social hosts, to understand Indiana dram shop liability laws and their responsibility in serving alcohol, people who are involved in an accident with a drunk driver and injured or otherwise harmed as a result of their intoxication also need to understand their rights under Indiana dram shop laws.

In 2014, 14,428 people were arrested in Indiana for driving under the influence of alcohol, placing Indiana as 43rd of the 50 states for DUI arrests. While this ranking is encouraging, approximately 10,000 people die each year due to drunk driving in the United States. During a recent nine-year period in Indiana, over 2,000 Hoosiers perished in DUI-related crashes. Far too many people get behind the wheel while impaired and you or someone you love could be injured or harmed by this recklessness.

If you or a loved one is injured or killed at the hands of an intoxicated driver in Indianapolis, the attorneys at PBAR can help you fight for your rights and receive compensation for damages. We will explore all avenues for you to hold all of those legally liable for damages responsible.

Poynter & Bucheri Accident Recovery – Indianapolis Personal Injury Attorneys

If you or a loved one has been injured physically or mentally by a person, product or company, you need to know your legal rights. Our personal injury attorneys are experienced with cases like yours and can evaluate what your case may be worth. We will ensure that you are protected and compensated for your injuries and losses. Don’t hesitate – one of our experienced attorneys can assist you right away. Call 1-800-265-9881 for a free case review.