Bar Goes Down with the Drunk

Can the Bar that served the drunk driver involved in my accident be held responsible?  

Yes. In Massachusetts we have what is called Dram Shop Law, and under that law a bar can be held responsible if a person they served alcohol to goes out and injures someone.   

To break this down further, let’s first explain what a ‘dram shop’ is.  

A dram shop is an establishment where alcoholic beverages are sold. This name originated from shops that sold alcohol by the “dram” – which is a small unit of liquid. Bars, taverns, restaurants, sporting venues, clubs and liquor stores are examples of dram shops.  

What Does Dram Shop Law Mean?  

Under Chapter 138, Section 69 – Dram Shop Law states “No alcoholic beverage shall be sold or delivered on any premises licensed under this chapter to an intoxicated person.” This means that a bar, or other dram shop establishment, cannot serve alcohol to someone who is visibly already intoxicated, and if they do so, they can be held liable for any injuries caused by the drunk individual. 

Specifically, if a bartender serves an individual who was already drunk, that individual leaves the bar, drives and injures somebody while driving, the bar can be held legally responsible for the injuries.  

 Proving Liability  

Multiple factors play into proving responsibility and negligence of the bar in these drunk driving cases. It must be proven that the drunk driver was a customer of the bar, and that he or she was served alcohol while already intoxicated. It also must be established that the server knew or should have known, that the individual being served was already drunk. And lastly, it must be proven that it was foreseeable that the individual was going to get behind the wheel of the car. These things may be proven by blood or breathalyzer results of the drunk individual, and also through witness statements. 


Dram Shop Law allows for the individual who was injured by the drunk driver, to be better compensated for their injuries. Often, the drunk driver may have a policy limit that would not appropriately cover the injury damage caused by the accident. But through Dram Shop Law, the injured individual can go after the establishment who would have an insurance policy that would more adequately cover the cost of damages. 

Although sometimes it may be difficult to prove responsibility and negligence, Diller Law attorneys have the experience and resources to handle these types of cases and maximize value and compensation.  

If you have been victimized in a drunk driving accident, contact us and we will provide you with a free consultation and help you receive the justice that you deserve.  

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