Dram Shop Cases: What are They?

Dram Shop Cases: What are They?


The term “Dram Shop” originated back in 18th century England and refers to spirits served by the spoonful, or “dram” (1/8 fluid oz.). Today, this term encompasses any establishments serving alcohol, such as bars, restaurants, distilleries, etc. Each of these businesses is responsible for upholding the Dram Shop Act, which includes a list of rules and regulations that must be strictly followed.


When is an Establishment in Violation of the Dram Shop Code?


According to Montana Code Annotated 27-1-710, establishments furnishing customers with alcoholic beverages are held liable in cases when: a) the consumer is underage; b) the consumer was visibly intoxicated; or c) the furnishing party forced or coerced the consumption or told the consumer that the beverage contained no alcohol. If death or injuries are invoked on a third party by the actions of a consumer that was served illegally, the business violates the Dram Shop Act and can be liable. 


Can I as an Individual be Held Liable Under the Dram Shop Code?


Individuals are NOT excluded from the liabilities outlined in Montana State Law! The rules apply to anyone serving alcohol in any situation – whether a business entity or individual. On top of that, individuals caught violating dram shop laws are personally liable, which means plaintiffs can go after personal assets in an attempt to repair the damages caused by intoxicated individuals.


For example, if Susan holds a dinner party for her friends, and she serves Courtney, who is underage, she can be held responsible for Courtney’s actions later that night. Let’s say Courtney drunkenly drives away for the night and she hits a pedestrian crossing the street. Susan, as the furnishing party, is now potentially liable for the damage done to the pedestrian.


I Caused Damage to Someone While Intoxicated, or was Wounded by Someone Intoxicated - What do I do?


Get legal assistance. Here at Ryan Holloway & Miller, we see cases like this all the time, and it is important to us to represent you the best we can. If you find yourself in this type of situation, call (406) 542-2233 to get in touch with our experienced attorneys.