What Is The Dram Shop Law In Minnesota?

Going to a bar is a great way to have fun, let off steam, and meet up with friends. Sadly, a good time can sometimes end poorly, especially when alcohol is involved. Dozens of people die from alcohol-impaired driving accidents in Minnesota each year, and thousands more are injured.

To reduce the number of injuries and deaths, Minnesota has enacted several laws and rules that cover everything from making beer or wine at home to defining which types of businesses can sell liquor. One such rule is Minnesota Statutes section 340A.801, also known as the Dram Shop Law.

What’s A Dram Shop Law?

The dram shop law allows people who are injured or family members of those killed to hold businesses liable for illegally selling alcohol to someone who went on to injure themselves, injure someone else, or damage property.

Illegal sales include selling to someone who is already obviously intoxicated, thereby causing the person harm, and selling alcohol to a minor who is under the age of 21.

Why Do They Call It A Dram Shop Law?

They call it a dram shop law because alcohol vendors used to sell liquor in drams, which is a unit of measurement. In the United States and Canada, a dram of alcohol is 1/8 of an ounce or about one shot of whiskey. A dram shop, then, is a place that sells drams of alcohol. The law extends to other venues that sell alcohol, such as stadiums, beer gardens, and more.

Who Does The Dram Shop Law Cover?

Minnesota’s Dram Shop Act holds the people who own and/or operate a tavern responsible for any injury caused by an intoxicated person or as a consequence of the patron’s intoxication. The law holds both the person holding the alcohol license and the server civilly liable.

What Do Plaintiffs Need To Show?

To prove their case, the plaintiff must show that:

  • There was an illegal sale of intoxicating liquor
  • The illegal sale directly caused or contributed to the person’s intoxication
  • The individual’s intoxication directly caused the plaintiff’s injury
  • The plaintiff sustained damages covered under Minnesota’s Dram Shop Act
  • Proper notice was given to the vendor

Is There A Defense Against A Dram Law Accusation?

Yes! The accused may show that they acted in good faith if a minor presents them with a fake ID, for example. The defendant may also be able to prove that someone else served the intoxicated person between the time the accused served them and their accident/crime/injury.

I’ve Been Accused Of Breaking Minnesota’s Dram Shop Law! What Should I Do?

If you are a tavern owner, server, or someone else accused of selling alcohol illegally – or if you or someone you love was injured by an intoxicated person who was served illegally – consult with NGSW&B Attorneys At Law. Our personal injury attorneys can help you navigate the complex dram law in Minnesota to help you get the best outcome possible.

Dram Shop Law-Glass of whisky on bar top

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