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.