Drunk Driving and Texas Dram Shop Laws

by | Jan 30, 2024 | Car Accident, Dram Shop Law, DUI/DWI, Personal Injury, Vehicle Accident

Texas dram shop laws are legal provisions that hold establishments liable for injuries or damages caused by individuals who have consumed alcohol on their premises. These laws are in place to address the social and legal responsibility of businesses that serve alcohol to patrons. In Texas, dram shop laws play a crucial role in regulating the sale and service of alcoholic beverages and ensuring accountability for those who contribute to alcohol-related incidents.

It is important for Texan’s to be aware of the significance of drunk driving. As dram shop laws highlight, drunk driving affects much more than the driving record of the person behind the wheel. Drunk driving can also affect passengers or other motorists if a drunk driver causes an accident. Businesses, such as bars or restaurants, can also be affected if a dram shop claim is filed against them. Drunk driving has a profound ripple effect that often results in injuries or death.

Below, the dram shop lawyers at Kherkher Garcia provide information about drunk driving and Texas dram shop laws. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about dram shop claims or have injuries caused by a drunk driver.

Texas Drunk Driving Statistics

Sadly, drunk driving remains a significant problem in Texas. This negligent behavior results in tragic consequences year after year. Here are some recent statistics that show just how serious the problem is:

Drunk Driving Statistics:

  • 25,261 drunk driving crashes occurred in Texas in 2021, resulting in 1,029 deaths and 2,522 serious injuries.
  • This represents a 9% increase in DUI-related crashes compared to 2020.
  • 1,162 people died in drunk driving crashes in Texas in 2022, a 2% increase from the year before. This equates to three lives lost every single day on average.
  • 26% of all traffic fatalities in Texas in 2022 involved a drunk driver. This means almost one in four fatal crashes on Texas roads were caused by someone driving under the influence.
  • On average, someone dies in a drunk driving crash in Texas every 7 hours and 32 minutes.

Alarming Behavior among Texas Drivers:

  • 1% of Texans have reported driving after drinking too much in the last 30 days.
  • 22% of Texas residents have been involved in a drunk driving crash at some point in their lives.
  • 14% of Texas drivers who have driven drunk have been charged with a DWI or DUI.

As you can see, driving under the influence of alcohol remains a massive concern for Texan’s. What makes matters worse is the fact that statistics are based only on incidents that are reported. There are, undoubtedly, many other instances of drunk driving that are not reported.

Overview of Texas Dram Shop Laws

Texas dram shop laws have evolved over the years in response to societal concerns about alcohol-related accidents and the need to protect innocent third parties from the consequences of excessive alcohol consumption. The legal framework aims to strike a balance between personal responsibility and the duty of alcohol-serving establishments to monitor and control alcohol consumption on their premises.

Here are some of the key provisions of Texas dram shop laws:

Liability for Over-Service

In Texas, dram shop liability extends to situations where an establishment serves alcohol to an individual who is obviously intoxicated. This includes situations where a reasonable person would have observed signs of intoxication, such as slurred speech, impaired coordination, or erratic behavior. If the over-service of alcohol contributes to an accident or injury, the establishment may be held liable.

Sale to Minors

Beyond serving visibly intoxicated patrons, Texas dram shop laws also address the sale of alcohol to minors. If an establishment sells alcohol to an individual under the legal drinking age, and that person causes harm to themselves or others due to alcohol consumption, the business may face liability.

Social Host Liability

While dram shop laws primarily pertain to commercial establishments, Texas has also extended liability to social hosts in certain situations. If a private individual or entity knowingly serves alcohol to a minor or a visibly intoxicated person, and that person causes harm as a result, the social host may be held accountable.

Causation and Damages

To establish liability under dram shop laws, the injured party must demonstrate a direct link between the over-service of alcohol and the resulting harm. Additionally, damages must be proven, including medical expenses, lost wages, and other costs incurred due to the alcohol-related incident.

Statute of Limitations

Texas imposes a statute of limitations on dram shop liability claims, typically two years from the date of the incident. This limitation emphasizes the importance of timely legal action to pursue compensation for injuries or damages.

Defenses Available to Establishments

Once someone files a dram shop claim against an establishment or host, that party has the ability to defend themselves against the claims. Common defenses to dram shop claims include:

  • No Visible Signs of Intoxication: Establishments may argue that there were no apparent signs of intoxication when serving the patron, making it difficult to foresee any potential harm.
  • Proximate Cause: Establishments may contend that their actions were not the proximate cause of the injury or damages. For instance, they might argue that the patron’s own conduct or other intervening factors were responsible for the harm.
  • ID Checks and Due Diligence: If accused of selling alcohol to a minor, an establishment may present evidence of diligently checking identification and having reasonable belief that the individual was of legal drinking age.

Businesses and social hosts must be aware of their responsibilities under Texas dram shop laws and take appropriate measures to prevent harm associated with excessive alcohol consumption on their premises.

How does Working with a Texas Dram Shop Lawyer Help Victims?

Working with a Texas dram shop lawyer can be crucial for victims seeking compensation and justice in the aftermath of an alcohol-related incident. Here are several ways in which a dram shop lawyer can assist victims:

Legal Expertise

A Texas dram shop lawyer has a deep understanding of the legal nuances involved in these cases. They can navigate the complexities of these laws, ensuring that victims’ rights are protected and that the legal process is followed correctly. A dram shop lawyer can provide valuable guidance on the legal options available to victims. This includes explaining the statute of limitations, advising on potential legal strategies, and helping victims make informed decisions about pursuing a case.

Determining Liability

Establishing liability under dram shop laws can be challenging. A skilled dram shop lawyer will assess the evidence to determine whether the establishment’s over-service of alcohol or sale to a minor directly contributed to the victim’s injuries. They can help build a compelling case by demonstrating the establishment’s negligence or violation of dram shop laws.

Investigation and Evidence Gathering

Dram shop cases often require thorough investigation to establish liability. A dram shop lawyer can conduct a detailed examination of the circumstances surrounding the incident, gather evidence, and interview witnesses. This may include obtaining surveillance footage, medical records, police reports, and other relevant documentation.

Calculating Damages

Dram shop cases involve quantifying the damages suffered by the victim. A dram shop lawyer can assess medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other related costs to ensure that the victim seeks appropriate compensation. They may consult with experts to provide evidence supporting the value of the damages.

Negotiating with Insurance Companies

In many dram shop cases, compensation is sought from the establishment’s insurance policy. A dram shop lawyer can negotiate with insurance companies on behalf of the victim, seeking a fair settlement. They understand the tactics insurers may use to minimize payouts and can work to ensure victims receive the compensation they deserve.

Litigation Representation

If a fair settlement cannot be reached through negotiations, a dram shop lawyer will be prepared to take the case to court. They will represent the victim in legal proceedings, presenting the evidence, questioning witnesses, and arguing the case to the judge and/or jury.

Working with a Texas dram shop lawyer empowers victims by leveraging legal expertise, conducting thorough investigations, and advocating for fair compensation. By partnering with a knowledgeable lawyer, victims increase their chances of holding responsible parties accountable for their actions and obtaining the justice they deserve.

Contact a Texas Dram Shop Lawyer

Texas dram shop laws serve as a critical component of the state’s efforts to regulate alcohol consumption responsibly. By holding alcohol-serving establishments accountable for over-service and sales to minors, these laws aim to reduce the likelihood of alcohol-related incidents and protect the public from the consequences of irresponsible alcohol consumption.

Unfortunately, drunk driving and alcohol-related injuries still occur at an alarming rate despite the best efforts of lawmakers. When injuries occur due to negligence, victims can count on Kherkher Garcia to help them protect their rights and pursue justice. Our team is well-versed in Texas dram shop laws, personal injury, and auto accident cases. We are fierce advocates for the rights of our clients and work diligently to obtain maximum compensation.

If you have questions about Texas dram shop laws, drunk driving injuries, or filing a claim, contact us for a free consultation. You can call us at 713-333-1030, or complete our online contact form to get started.


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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.

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