Dram shop liability plays role to decrease drunk driving crashes

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In Tennessee, there are dram shop liability laws. These laws allow for those injured in accidents caused by drunk drivers to seek additional compensation through a dram shop liability lawsuit. Essentially, this allows those injured to hold bars and other establishments accountable for over-serving alcohol to someone who ended up getting behind the wheel of a car.

Commercial host liability, which is often referred to as dram shop liability, was recently studied by researchers at Alcohol Policy Consultations and the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth. These researchers found many states have started to put laws in place to better protect retailers against these liability laws.

James F. Mosher, with Alcohol Policy Consultations, calls better protecting retailers who over-serve and serve minors a “public health failure” and points to the fact that this type of legislation can end up leading to more people who are injured being denied their day in court.

In learning about this trend in decreasing liability, this is also particularly troubling once it is realized just how many accidents these types of laws may be preventing.

For example, in 2010 the Community Preventive Services Task Force found that in those states with commercial host liability there was a 6.4 percent decrease in the number of alcohol-related fatal car crashes. One could imagine this would be due to restaurants and bars being more cautious as to how much alcoholic drinks are being served to patrons.

For right now though, even though the study found a trend in there being more legislation to protect retailers, those in Tennessee should know there are still dram shop liability laws and those injured in car accidents with drunk drivers still have options.

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