Can Individual Bartenders Be Liable Under Texas Dram Shop Laws?

Maverick Ray Law
July 20, 2023

Texas Dram Shop Law Explained

If a drunk driver causes an accident that injures or kills someone, the driver can be held liable. But in Texas and several other states, the law goes even further, making other parties liable. Texas’ dram shop law holds restaurants, bars, and their employees accountable for overserving alcohol to their customers.

If you or a loved one was injured in a drunk driving accident, contact Maverick Ray & Associates. We will thoroughly investigate the accident and hold not only the driver but any other responsible parties liable for their negligent actions. Contact us online or call (281) 672-8029 to schedule a free consultation with one of our experienced personal injury lawyers in Houston.

Where Does the Term “Dram Shop” Come From?

The term “dram shop,” although outdated, is a term used to describe a bar, tavern, or other establishment that sells or serves alcohol to its patrons. The term “dram” is a Scottish word used to describe a small drink (a little less than a teaspoon) of whiskey or other spirit.

Texas’ Dram Shop Law

The Texas Alcohol Beverage Code includes the state’s dram shop law. The dram shop law applies to anyone who is licensed or permitted to serve or sell alcohol. It allows people to sue bars and other establishments when overly intoxicated patrons cause damages. The law states that anyone who provides alcohol can be held liable for damages caused by the intoxicated person if it can be proved that:

  • It was obvious to the provider that the individual was intoxicated to the extent that he or she posed a clear danger to themselves or others.
  • The person’s intoxication was a direct cause of the damages suffered by the plaintiff.

Are There Criminal Penalties for Over-serving Alcohol?

Although not specifically stated in the dram shop act, there are possible criminal penalties for over-serving alcohol to a patron. These penalties include up to one year in jail and a fine of $500.

Can Servers and Bartenders Be Held Liable?

Yes. If a server, bartender, or someone who sells liquor provides alcohol to a person who is clearly intoxicated and that person gets into a drunk driving accident that injures or kills someone, that person can be held personally liable. It is not just the business or establishment that can be held liable in a personal injury lawsuit.

Texas’ Social Host Law

Texas has a second law that makes individuals and businesses liable for drunk driving accidents. The social host law holds hosts who are 21 and older responsible for providing alcohol to minors. Hosts can be liable if:

  • The host intentionally served alcohol to the minor
  • The host knew the minor was intoxicated and posed a danger to themselves or others
  • The intoxication resulted in injury or damage

Speak with a Houston Personal Injury Attorney for FREE

If you were in an accident caused by a drunk driver, you have the right to seek damages, such as compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, and pain and suffering.
In Texas, you only have two years to take legal action in a drunk driving accident case, so it is important to act now. The Houston personal injury lawyers at Maverick Ray & Associates are committed to holding negligent parties accountable, which includes fighting for compensation from an individual or business that over-served alcohol. To learn more about how we can help you secure maximum compensation, call (281) 672-8029 to schedule a free consultation.