There are 47 states with variations of dram shop laws, but there language differs greatly. Under dram shop laws, a bar is liable for “over-serving” customers. For example, New York’s dram shop law reads in part :
Any person who shall be injured in person, property, means of support, or otherwise by any intoxicated person, or by reason of the intoxication of any person, whether resulting in his death or not, shall have a right of action against any person who shall, by unlawful selling to or unlawfully assisting in procuring liquor for such intoxicated person, have caused or contributed to such intoxication.
Bars are routinely sued for over-serving of customers and many states treat serving of minors as a strict liability offense. Notably, in a recent New Jersey decision, a bar was held responsible for the intoxicated state of a minor who was given spiked drinks by friends at the bar –despite the fact that he had ordered a soda. For the opinion, click here. The court ruled that the minor showed unmistakable signs of intoxication and fell under the negligence standard of the law.
The fact that anyone can serve themselves at these tables raises an increased likelihood that over-consumption will occur or minors will get access to the alcohol. This will require some added showing on the part of the bar that they kept close supervision on who was in the bar and whether there was evidence of obvious intoxication (leading to the tap being cut off).
For the video, click here.