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Dram Shop Liability

Rhode Island is one of 43 states currently operating under what are known as dram shop laws, or statues that govern the service of alcoholic beverages to certain customers at retail establishments. Named after a British measure of liquid known as a “dram” through which liquor was once served, these laws essentially hold establishments liable to various degrees for the actions of those to whom they sell alcohol.

Dram shop laws are actually a fairly recent development in most states, emerging in the past three decades or so as a response to incidents in which serious accidents and fatalities to third parties were judged to have been in some way the fault of an establishment’s negligence. If you have been charged with a DUI-related offense and believe another party’s negligence may have contributed to an accident, contact Rhode Island DUI defense attorney Matthew Marin at 401-287-4384.

Actions Prohibited by Dram Laws

Although the specifics of dram shop laws vary by region, most states include provisions that criminalize sales of alcohol to:

  • Minors (those under the age of 21)
  • Visibly intoxicated patrons
  • Those without proper identification
  • Those attempting to purchase alcohol after-hours

To prosecute or hold an establishment liable under dram shop laws typically requires that a vendor or seller of alcohol or an employee thereof knowingly served a beverage to someone in one of the above categories, and that this service was the proximate cause of injury to person or property. A classic example would be a man who was already intoxicated being served more alcohol and then hitting a pedestrian with his car on the way home.

Contact Us

Liability in dram shop cases can be difficult to prove, with the standards of what constitutes visible intoxication being especially tricky. If you have been charged with a DUI-related offense and you believe an establishment’s negligence may have been in some way at fault for your actions, contact experienced Rhode Island DUI defense lawyer Matthew Marin today at 401-287-4384.