Dram Shop Liability

Dram shop liability laws mean that if a customer buys a drink, leaves that location, and then causes harm, the owner of the place where the drink was served is legally responsible. Passing and enforcing dram shop liability laws reduced alcohol-related harms in numerous studies. For example, the percent of alcohol-related motor vehicle fatalities decreased by an average of 6.4% after passage of dram shop policies.


Rammohan, V., Hahn, R. A., Elder, R., Brewer, R., Fielding, J., Naimi, T. S., ... & Task Force on Community Preventive Services. (2011). Effects of dram shop liability and enhanced overservice law enforcement initiatives on excessive alcohol consumption and related harms: two Community Guide systematic reviews. American journal of preventive medicine, 41(3), 334-343. Available online here

Mosher, J. F. (1979). Dram shop liability and the prevention of alcohol-related problems. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 40(9), 773-798. Abstract available here.


The U.S. Alcohol Policy Alliance (USAPA) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization translating alcohol policy research into public health practice. The Alliance is committed to ensuring that local and statewide organizations engaging in alcohol policy initiatives have access to the science, resources and technical assistance, including support for organizing efforts, required to engage in informed decisions and actions in translating alcohol policy research into public health practice.

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