Florida’s Dram Shop Act

Under Florida’s Dram Shop Act, a person who willfully and unlawfully sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person who is not of lawful drinking age may be liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such minor. A bar has a legal duty to refrain from serving alcoholic beverages to minors, and a breach of that duty may subject the bar to liability for injuries caused by an intoxicated minor.

Florida’s Dram Shop Act is drafted in such a way as to exempt those who sell alcoholic beverages from liability for damages caused by the person to whom the alcohol was sold or furnished, except in two relatively narrow circumstances. Specifically, Fla. Stat. § 768.125—Liability for injury or damage resulting from intoxication states the following: “A person who sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person of lawful drinking age shall not thereby become liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such person, except that a person who willfully and unlawfully sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person who is not of lawful drinking age or who knowingly serves a person habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages may become liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such minor or person.

What is a “Willful” Sale Under Florida’s Dram Shop Act?

The statute requires willful conduct, as opposed to merely negligent conduct, to impose liability. A “willful” sale or furnishing of alcoholic beverages to a person not of lawful drinking age requires knowledge on the part of the seller of the age of the recipient, which may be proved by either direct or circumstantial evidence. However, there is authority suggesting that if a vendor sells alcohol to an adult, knowing that the alcohol will be consumed by a minor, the vendor will be liable under the Dram Shop Act for injury resulting from the intoxication of the minor. Additionally, if a vendor furnishes alcohol to a minor, and there are facts putting the vendor on notice that the minor will be sharing with another minor or minors, then the vendor “sells or furnishes” alcohol to all of the minors involved within the meaning of the Dram Shop Act.

What is the Difference Between a Social Host and a Commercial Host in Florida?

A social host is a person who provides alcohol in a private gathering to guests. A commercial host is distinguishable from a social host in many ways. Commercial hosts are persons or commercial establishments that are licensed to sell alcoholic beverages in a commercial setting. In Florida, commercial hosts must apply for a license through the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation in order to sell alcoholic beverages to the general public. The main takeaway here is that the law does not apply to social hosts who provide alcohol at private gatherings. However, a social host may face criminal charges if they are caught providing alcohol to minors.

Speak with a Personal Injury Attorney

Those who have been involved in an accident of any kind could suffer serious injuries that may take months or years to recover from, and continued treatments and expensive medical bills can take a large toll on a person’s quality of life. After any type of crash, you should consider talking to a car accident lawyer to learn what your rights and obligations are under the law. Let the personal injury attorneys at Suarez & Montero review the circumstances of your case and discuss your legal options. Our attorneys are ready to provide proven legal representation in pursuing your claim and stand ready to protect your rights.

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Jaime Suarez

An experienced legal personal injury defense professional in Miami, who is dedicated to helping accident victims with personal injury cases involving automobile accidents, brain and spinal cord injuries, slip and fall accidents, prescription errors, wrongful death, and accidents at work.