In recent years, the convenience of alcohol delivery services has become increasingly popular, particularly accelerated by the global pandemic. However, this rise in popularity has brought about significant legal considerations, particularly concerning Texas dram shop laws. These laws, which hold establishments accountable for serving alcohol to visibly intoxicated individuals or minors, present a complex legal landscape for alcohol delivery services operating within Texas.

Below, the dram shop attorneys at Kherkher Garcia explore how alcohol delivery services and Texas dram shop laws intersect. We will also provide insight into our how attorneys can help if you have questions about a dram shop claim.

Understanding Texas Dram Shop Laws

Texas dram shop laws, codified under the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, are designed to promote responsible alcohol service and consumption. The core principle of these laws is to impose liability on businesses that serve alcohol to visibly intoxicated persons or minors who subsequently cause harm to themselves or others due to their intoxication. The law aims to deter over-service and underage drinking by holding the servers legally responsible for the outcomes of their actions.

The Texas Dram Shop Act allows victims to pursue legal action against establishments if it can be proven that the establishment served alcohol irresponsibly. This legal framework has traditionally applied to bars, restaurants, and other on-premises establishments where alcohol is consumed on-site.

The Rise of Alcohol Delivery Services

The introduction and rapid growth of alcohol delivery services, facilitated by apps and online platforms, have added a new dimension to the way alcohol is purchased and consumed. These services offer a level of convenience that has been eagerly embraced by consumers. However, the question arises: How do these services fit into the existing legal framework of Texas dram shop laws?

Alcohol Delivery Services and Legal Responsibilities

The primary challenge for alcohol delivery services is ensuring compliance with the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code. Unlike traditional establishments, delivery services face unique challenges, such as verifying the age and intoxication level of the recipient remotely. This raises several critical questions:

  • Verification of Age: Ensuring that alcohol is not delivered to minors is a fundamental responsibility. Delivery services must implement robust age verification processes, which may include requiring valid identification upon delivery and using technology to verify the authenticity of the ID.
  • Assessment of Intoxication: Determining whether a recipient is visibly intoxicated presents a significant challenge for delivery personnel. Unlike bartenders or servers in a traditional setting, delivery drivers typically do not have the training to assess intoxication levels accurately. This aspect of the law is particularly difficult to enforce for delivery services.

Legal Implications for Delivery Services

Alcohol delivery services operating in Texas must navigate these challenges carefully to avoid liability under the Dram Shop Laws. Key legal implications include:

  • Liability for Over-service: If a delivery service provides alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person who then causes harm, the service could be held liable under the Dram Shop Act. This places a heavy burden on delivery companies to implement measures to prevent over-service.
  • Liability for Serving Minors: Delivering alcohol to a minor is a clear violation of Texas law. Delivery services must ensure that their age verification processes are foolproof to avoid legal repercussions.
  • Insurance and Compliance: To mitigate risks, delivery services must ensure they have appropriate insurance coverage. Additionally, they must stay informed about and comply with all relevant regulations, including training drivers on the legal responsibilities of alcohol delivery.

Technology and Compliance

To address these challenges, many alcohol delivery services are turning to technology. Advanced age verification software, GPS tracking, and real-time monitoring of deliveries can help ensure compliance with the law. Additionally, some services require recipients to upload a valid ID at the time of order, which is then verified by the delivery driver upon arrival.

Training is also a critical component. Delivery drivers should be trained to recognize signs of intoxication and understand the legal implications of serving alcohol irresponsibly. Some companies are even considering partnerships with local law enforcement to provide training and resources.

Legislative and Regulatory Developments

As the popularity of alcohol delivery services grows, there is a push for clearer regulations specifically addressing these services. Legislators in Texas are considering amendments to the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code to better define the responsibilities of alcohol delivery services and ensure they are held to the same standards as traditional establishments.

What Sort of Injuries are Often Associated with Dram Shop Cases?

Dram shop cases often arise from serious injuries or damages caused by individuals who were served alcohol irresponsibly. These injuries can be extensive and impact various aspects of life. Here are some common types of injuries and damages often associated with dram shop cases:

Motor Vehicle Accidents

Motor vehicle accidents are among the most common and severe outcomes of dram shop violations. When an intoxicated person gets behind the wheel, they pose a significant risk to themselves, their passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians. Injuries from such accidents can range from minor bruises and lacerations to catastrophic injuries, including:

  • Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Broken Bones and Fractures
  • Internal Injuries
  • Fatalities

Assault and Battery

Intoxicated individuals may become aggressive or violent, leading to physical altercations. Such incidents can result in:

  • Concussions and Head Injuries
  • Facial Injuries and Broken Noses
  • Cuts and Lacerations
  • Bruising and Soft Tissue Injuries
  • Sexual Assault

Slip and Fall Accidents

Alcohol impairs coordination and balance, increasing the likelihood of slip and fall accidents. These accidents can occur on the premises of the establishment or elsewhere and can lead to:

  • Sprains and Strains
  • Fractures, particularly to wrists, arms, and hips
  • Head Injuries
  • Back and Neck Injuries

Drowning and Water-Related Incidents

Alcohol consumption is a significant risk factor in drowning and other water-related incidents. Individuals who are intoxicated may overestimate their swimming abilities or engage in risky behaviors near water, leading to:

  • Drowning
  • Near-Drowning Injuries
  • Hypothermia

Burns and Fire-Related Injuries

Intoxicated individuals may be less cautious and more prone to accidents involving fire. This can happen through careless smoking, mishandling fireworks, or other risky behaviors, resulting in:

  • First, Second, or Third-Degree Burns
  • Smoke Inhalation Injuries
  • Explosions Causing Traumatic Injuries

Injuries from Alcohol Poisoning

Overconsumption of alcohol can lead to alcohol poisoning, which is a medical emergency. Symptoms and complications can include:

  • Severe Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Respiratory Depression
  • Unconsciousness and Coma
  • Death

Property Damage

In addition to physical injuries, dram shop cases can involve significant property damage. This includes:

  • Damage to Vehicles
  • Destruction of Personal Property
  • Vandalism

Emotional and Psychological Injuries

The consequences of an incident involving an intoxicated person can extend beyond physical injuries. Victims may suffer from:

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Anxiety and Depression
  • Emotional Distress
  • Loss of Enjoyment of Life

As you can see, the impact of alcohol-related accidents and injuries can be catastrophic. The purpose of dram shop laws is to mitigate these risks and prevent accidents and injuries. Furthermore, these laws aim to hold establishments accountable for irresponsible alcohol service, which should serve as a deterrent for other establishments. For victims, these laws provide a means to seek compensation and justice for the harms they have suffered due to overservice or inappropriate service of alcohol.

Legal Considerations in Dram Shop Cases

Dram shop cases involve establishing that an establishment served alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person or a minor, and that this service directly led to the injuries or damages. Proving liability in these cases can be complex and may require evidence such as:

  • Witness Testimonies
  • Surveillance Footage
  • Receipts and Transaction Records
  • Expert Testimonies on Intoxication Levels

The integration of alcohol delivery services into the legal framework of Texas dram shop laws presents a complex but navigable challenge. As the landscape evolves, ongoing dialogue between regulators, service providers, and the community will be essential to balance convenience with the critical need for responsible alcohol service.

How Kherkher Garcia Can Help Victims with Dram Shop Claims

Navigating the complexities of dram shop laws can be daunting for victims seeking justice and compensation for their injuries. At Kherkher Garcia, we specialize in representing victims in dram shop claims, leveraging our extensive legal expertise and commitment to client advocacy. Our experienced attorneys understand the intricacies of Texas dram shop laws and are adept at building strong cases to hold negligent establishments accountable. We are also consistently evolving our knowledge and practice as new legal matters emerge, including alcohol delivery services.

The dram shop attorneys at Kherkher Garcia provide comprehensive support to victims, starting with a thorough investigation of the incident. We gather critical evidence, such as witness testimonies, surveillance footage, and transaction records, to establish the liability of the alcohol-serving establishment. Our team collaborates with medical professionals and experts to substantiate the impact of the injuries sustained.

At Kherkher Garcia, we are dedicated to achieving justice for our clients, holding responsible parties accountable, and helping victims rebuild their lives after the trauma of alcohol-related incidents. We fight diligently to secure compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.

If you have questions about a potential dram shop claim, contact our office for a free consultation. We will be glad to answer your questions and help you explore your rights and options. Call us at 713-333-1030, or complete our online contact form to get started.

Image by Freepik

Schedule a free Consultation

Steve Kherkher

Steve Kherkher

Founding Partner and Trial Lawyer

This article was written and reviewed by Injury Trial Lawyer and Founding Firm Partner Steve Kherkher. Steve has been a practicing injury lawyer for more than 30 years. He has won $300 Million+ in Settlements and Verdicts for his clients. He is a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom and the trial lawyer you want on your side if you or a loved one have been catastrophically injured.

Learn moreRead more articles