Dram shop laws hold bars and other liquor-selling establishments liable for injuries that are caused by intoxicated persons to whom they have served alcoholic beverages. The establishment owner may be held liable for damages and injuries to people that were the result of their patron's intoxication. Additionally, dram shop laws usually prohibit the sale of alcohol to persons who are obviously intoxicated, as well as the sale of alcohol to minors.
Dram shop laws are named after establishments in 18th Century England that sold gin by the spoonful, which was called a “dram.” Now, dram shop laws are enforced through civil lawsuits, which allows DUI victims or their families to sue alcohol vendors or retailers for monetary damages.
In the state of Illinois, there is no requirement that the business must have had knowledge or reason to know that the person they were serving was already intoxicated. Illinois dram shop law is very different from other states. Typically, dram shop laws in other states require at least a general suspicion that the person is visibly intoxicated.
Due to this unique provision in Illinois dram shop law, victims of accidents caused by an intoxicated person may be able to recover from multiple establishments. For example, if someone had drinks at several different Illinois bars and then struck a person with his or her car, the victim of this accident may recover from each bar if he or she can satisfy the following requirements for each of the defendants.
In order to invoke the Illinois Dram Shop Act, you must be able to prove the following:
- Proof of sale of alcohol to the patron
- Injuries sustained by the patron
- Proximate cause between the sale of alcohol and the defendant's intoxication
- Intoxication was at least one cause of your damages
Illinois dram shop law also contains special provisions regarding the law's applicability across state lines. The Illinois dram shop act can only be enforced across state lines if the neighboring state also has a similar dram shop act.
For example, if a person were to go to a bar in Chicago, then drive to Indiana, where he or she then caused an accident that resulted in injury, the Illinois bar would only be liable if Indiana had a similar dram shop law in effect. If Indiana does not, then the Illinois bar will not be held liable at all.