Have you ever wondered what dram shop laws are? Suppose you or a loved one have been the victim of a drinking and driving accident. In that case, compensation may be an option if the driver had been over-served alcohol at a bar, restaurant, or another establishment that serves alcohol.

Keep reading to learn more about dram shop lawsuits, the law in Utah, and what can be done.

What Are Dram Shop Laws?

According to Investopedia, dram shop laws are defined as laws that “hold a business liable for serving or selling alcohol to minors or intoxicated persons who later cause death, injury, or property damage to another person.” Essentially what this means is that under certain circumstances, a bar, restaurant, or any other establishment that sells alcoholic beverages can be held liable if the person they served causes damages after partaking in their intoxicating substances. 

In most states, only third-party dram shop lawsuits can be filed, which means that the injured person is someone other than the person who was served the alcohol. A select few states allow a first-party dram shop lawsuit to be filed where if the intoxicated person injures themself they can file against the establishment. However, first-person dram shop lawsuits are tough to win and can not be filed in the state of Utah. 

The Dram Shop Law in Utah 

Section 32B-15-201 of the Utah Code is the dram shop law in Utah. Essentially the law states that the restaurant or bar owner could be held liable for the actions of the intoxicated customer if they meet one of the following criteria: 

  • The patron was under the age of 21 
  • The patron was showing noticeable signs that they were under the influence of intoxicating drugs or alcohol 

An example of the Utah dram law in action could sound like the following: Mike is already showing signs of being intoxicated (slurred speech, smells of alcohol, etc.) when he walks into a bar on 21st street. Even though the bartender notices these things, he continues to serve Mike drinks. Once Mike decides he wants to go home, he heads to the parking lot where he, unfortunately, gets behind the wheel and causes an accident while driving home. The victim of the accident can seek damages from Mike, but they can also file a dram shop claim against the bar on 21st street for continuing to serve alcoholic beverages even though Mike was apparently intoxicated.

How Restaurants Protect Themselves Against Dram Shop Laws 

If you’re the owner of an establishment that serves alcoholic beverages, it’s essential always to be proactive when serving customers. Here are some things you should practice in your establishment to prevent a future dram shop lawsuit: 

  • Provide training for your employees to teach them responsible alcohol service
  • Develop clear policies that will control the number of drinks that can be served to one person 
  • Refuse entry to anyone that is visible intoxicated 
  • Develop clear policies to check all customers’ identification 
  • Invest in an ID card scanning system 
  • Monitor tables where alcohol was legally served to an adult and customers under the age of 21 are present

Let Flickinger Sutterfield and Boulton Represent You 

Whether you have questions about dram shop laws or are ready to take action, the law offices of Flickinger Sutterfield and Boulton are here to guide you and give the best legal advice. We’ll represent you and your case whether you’re looking for a settlement or taking your case to court. We believe that if you’ve been injured, you deserve fair compensation, and we’re willing to fight for that. With multiple offices in Northern Utah, from West Jordan down to Provo, our lawyers are ready to hear your case. Share your case with us today to get a free evaluation.