Florida’s Dram Shop Law

If you are a bartender, or if you own a bar, there is an important law that you should be aware of: Florida’s dram shop law. This law was recently argued in a Florida court following a fatal car accident. Terry Dinkins of Water Park, the owner of Acme Comic Superstore, caused said accident. The night of the accident he visited a bar for an event hosted by Acme. He then drove away from the bar with a blood-alcohol level of 0.20, and began driving in the wrong direction down State Road 436. Mr Dinkins then collided head-on with a gray Nissan. Sylvia Barajas and Brandi Cole, passengers of the Nissan, were killed on impact. Three civil lawsuits followed, one being against the bar. This lawsuit alleges that the bar was negligent under Florida’s dram shop law. This post will define Florida’s dram shop law and hopefully provide some clarity.         

How the Dram Shop Law Works in Florida

Upfront, various states have dram shop laws that allow injured people to seek compensation from a third party, such as a bar or a host at a social gathering, if that third party provided alcohol to someone who then caused an alcohol related accident. Florida’s dram shop law differs from other states’ dram shop laws. In Florida, per Florida Statute Section 768.125, if an individual willfully and unlawfully provides alcohol to a minor under 21 years of age or knowingly provides alcohol to a person habitually addicted to alcohol, that person, or bar, may be held liable for any injuries caused by the minor or the person who is habitually addicted.

In essence, Florida’s dram shop law differs from most other states’ law because, here in Florida, the law does not mention serving alcohol to someone who is or appears to be intoxicated. Thus, if a bartender serves alcohol to Bob, for example, and if Bob is extremely intoxicated, the bar will not be held liable under Florida’s dram shop law (unless Bob was below 21 years of age).  Yet, per Florida’s dram shop law, if Bob was known in the community to be habitually addicted to alcohol, and the bartender knew of this but served him alcohol anyway, the bar could then be held liable under Florida’s dram shop law.     

Another difference in Florida’s dram shop law, as compared to other states, is that it does not apply to social hosts. For example, say that Bob is drinking at a graduation party. The host of the parties continues serving beer to Bob long after he becomes visibly intoxicated. Bob then gets into a car accident, injuring four people. In Florida, the victims will not be able to pursue a lawsuit against the social host under Florida’s dram shop law.

Hire an Attorney for Your Case

If you or your loved one have been injured at the hands of someone else, it is imperative that you hire an attorney to increase your chances at adequate compensation. The Miami personal injury lawyers at Gerson & Schwartz, PA are here to help. We continue our 43-year plus tradition of representing injury victims and their families. We are experienced Miami personal injury attorneys, resourceful advocates and aggressive litigators for clients seeking to recover damages for the full extent of their losses from negligent individuals, business operators, and corporations.

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