“Dram Shop” is another name for a restaurant, bar, or store that sells alcoholic beverages. A dram is a small unit of measurement that was used to refer to a small shot of Scotch whiskey.
In the United States, “dram shop” isn’t a term that people usually use to describe their favorite watering hole. Rather, this terminology refers to a set of liability laws that apply to businesses that sell alcoholic beverages. Dram shop laws can hold alcohol servers or business proprietors responsible for harm that intoxicated or underage patrons cause to other people (or sometimes, themselves) after visiting the establishment in question. In other words, this set of laws is used to make sure that bars and restaurants don’t endanger the general public by serving alcohol carelessly or dangerously at their business.
Dram shop laws are set at the state level, which means that bars and restaurants in different states are held to varying levels of accountability for their patrons’ behavior. Most states’ dram shop laws are limited to ensuring that bartenders or proprietors do not serve patrons who are visibly and dangerously intoxicated, however, each states’ laws vary in their severity and their definition of what exactly defines a dangerously intoxicated person.
Studies that have examined the effect of dram shop laws compared to the number of alcohol-related injuries in each state have indicated that these laws can be effective at preventing injuries and death.