Florida Dram Shop Law

Effects of Alcohol

Consuming alcohol has a variety of side effects like lowered inhibitions, drowsiness, emotional changes, less efficient motor functions and it lowers a person’s ability to make good decisions. Unfortunately, these effects can lead to damages and misfortunes, especially when combined with the use of a motor vehicle.

Dram Shop Law Definition

The question arises then, if places that sell alcohol should hold any responsibility for serving someone who subsequently gets into a car accident. Florida, as well as 41 other states, has laws that hold irresponsible alcohol servers liable.  These are called “dram shop” laws. This name comes from the name of shops in the 18th century that would sell gin by the spoonful. These spoons of gin were called a “dram” but now that word is meant to signify any place that serves alcohol.

Florida Statute 768.125

In Florida these laws were formed in 1980.  Florida Statutes section 768.125 states; “A person who sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person of lawful drinking age shall not thereby become liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such person except when they unlawfully sell or furnish alcoholic beverages to a person who is not of lawful drinking age or who knowingly serves a person habitually addicted to the use of any alcoholic beverage.”

Liability for Serving Alcohol

This statute is unlike any other state’s dram shop laws because it only allows liability if alcohol is served to someone who is a minor or known to be an addict. It does not hold liable people who over serve someone alcohol nor serve someone who is visibly intoxicated. It is also important to take note that social hosts who serve alcohol are not held liable for injuries caused by someone they served alcohol at a private party or event even if they are “habitually addicted.”

Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations for victims of overly intoxicated people to sue the bar or other establishment that serves alcohol is four years.  This means that if they do not file a claim within four years of the accident, then the courts no longer have jurisdiction and the victim may no longer seek compensation from the legal system for their injuries.  It is important for victims of D.U.I. accidents to seek legal council and hire an attorney to make sure they meet their deadlines. An attorney can also help them analyze their case and recover for damages they are due.  These include current and future medical bills for hospitalization, medication, physical therapy and rehabilitation. These also include any current and future wages lost from the time that they could not work from their injuries.  D.U.I. accidents do not only result in physical damage to the victim’s body. They also adversely affect a plaintiff’s personal property and mind. Hiring an attorney can help a plaintiff gather evidence of pain, suffering, mental anguish, as well as damages to personal property.  Dram shops would also benefit from hiring an attorney who could help them understand what rights they have in Florida.