Holding Alcohol Retailers Liable Can Reduce Deaths and Injuries, Task Force Finds

Holding alcohol retailers liable for injuries or damage done by their customers who are intoxicated can reduce alcohol-related occurrences including motor vehicle deaths, homicides and injuries, according to a nationwide task force.

The Community Preventive Services Task Force, an independent, volunteer body of public health and prevention experts, conducted a review of studies that looked at state laws on commercial host or dram shop liability, UPI reports. A dram shop is a retail establishment that sells alcohol. These laws hold any retail establishment that sells alcohol liable for injuries or harm caused by intoxicated or underage customers.

The task force found these liability laws encouraged more responsible beverage serving because they give managers and servers an incentive to manage their service to underage and intoxicated customers more closely. In areas with dram shop liability laws, there was a median reduction of 6.4 percent in alcohol-related motor vehicle deaths, compared with areas without such a law. The findings are scheduled to be published in September in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

According to a news release from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of January 2009, there were dram shop laws in 44 states and the District of Columbia.