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What Is Dram Shop Liability?

Dram shop liability means that a person injured by a drunk driver may file a lawsuit against the establishment (usually a bar or restaurant) that served the alcohol.

The name is derived from a time when alcohol was sold in units called "drams."  The idea behind this law is to hold a bar or restaurant accountable for serving an obviously drunk patron with knowledge that he'd be driving home.   

Unlike many states, Virginia does not recognize dram shop liability.  Virginia law instead focuses on the conduct of the drunk driver to determine responsibility for an accident.  This includes the amount of alcohol consumed in relation to the time of driving.  Generally speaking, bars and restaurants in Virginia are protected from lawsuits based on the drunk driving of their customers.  

Andrew Thomas
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Andrew Thomas is an experienced civil litigation attorney in Virginia and is AV Rated by Martindale-Hubbell.