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What You Need to Know About Dram Shop Laws in Tennessee


Different states control the buying, selling, and consumption of alcoholic beverages by their own laws. However, federal and state laws require that anyone 21 years of age or older may drink alcoholic beverages. One of the laws that Tennessee has to control alcohol consumption and driving while intoxicated is the dram shop law.

Tennessee’s Dram Shop Laws

Notwithstanding the provisions of Sections 57-10-101, no judge or jury may decide what is awarded to or on behalf of an injured or deceased party against a person who has sold an alcoholic beverage or beer, unless that jury, composed of twelve (12) persons, first established without reasonable doubt that the sale of the alcoholic beverage or beer by that person was the direct cause of the injury or death and that such person:

  1. sold an alcoholic beverage or beer to a person known to be under 21 years of age who has caused personal injury or death directly as a result of the consumption of the alcoholic beverage or beer sold; or
  2. sold an alcoholic beverage or beer to a person who is clearly intoxicated and who has caused personal injury or death as a direct result of the consumption of the alcoholic beverage or beer sold.

It is important to note that the dram shop law is used to potentially hold the alcohol dealer liable to a third party who has suffered damage by a drunk person as a result of the sale of alcohol.

The dram shop laws are not used to hold the supplier or seller liable to the purchaser of the alcohol in case of poisoning or injury. In short, the dram shop law does not apply to the buyer himself, but only to those who have suffered damage from the buyer.

What About the Parents and Bartenders Who Allow Minors to Drink?

If the bartenders or parents allow drinking alcohol within their premises, they may have to face serious outcomes if an accident occurs due to this activity. A possible punishment in the state of Tennessee would be to pay compensation to the victim after the harm was caused by the minor due to the parents are bartenders activity. There is also the possibility of criminal prosecution and possible sanctions by public authorities. In most situations, dram shop laws are hard to prove because, the State of Tennessee believes that the cause of the injury and/or death is the driver who consumed the alcohol and not the person or institution that provided it.

Contact an Experienced Attorney Today

If you have been injured in a car accident involving a drunk driver, you may be entitled to not only file a claim for compensation against the driver of the negligent vehicle, but against a third party as well. Contact the Nashville personal injury attorneys at Calhoun Law PLC today to find out what your legal options may be and let us help you get the compensation that you are entitled to.


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