Task Force: Commercial Liability an Effective Strategy to Reduce Alcohol-Related Problems

The independent, nonfederal, volunteer body of public health and prevention experts has determined that commercial host liability, otherwise known as dram shop liability, can be an effective intervention for reducing alcohol-related harms.

Holding alcohol retailers liable for injuries or damage done by their intoxicated customers can reduce motor vehicle deaths, homicides, injuries, and other alcohol-related problems, according to the Community Preventive Services Task Force. The independent, nonfederal, volunteer body of public health and prevention experts has determined that commercial host liability, otherwise known as dram shop liability, can be an effective intervention for reducing alcohol-related harms.

A dram shop is any retail establishment where alcohol is sold. Traditionally, it referred to a shop where spirits were sold by the dram, a small unit of liquid. Dram shop liability refers to laws that provide for the liability of retail establishments that sell alcohol for the injuries or harms caused by their intoxicated or underage customers. The Task Force had found that these types of laws have been shown to encourage more responsible beverage serving because managers and servers have an incentive to more closely manage their beverage service to intoxicated and underage customers, which can lead to penalties for retail establishments when this service leads to harms or damages.

As of January 2009, 44 states and the District of Columbia have dram shop laws, although the laws vary in their scope and in the evidence required for holding commercial hosts liable for their conduct. State-by-state information on dram shop laws pertaining to illegal service to underage minors is included in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Report to Congress on the Prevention and Reduction of Underage Drinking.

The Task Force findings are based on a systematic review of all available studies. The findings and systematic review were posted online today by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and will be published in the journal’s September 2011 issue.

The review says jurisdictions that seek to hold retail alcohol establishments liable for injuries or harms that result from their service to intoxicated customers or underage minors have reduced incidence of alcohol-related problems, including injuries and deaths. Evidence shows that dram shop liability can reduce motor vehicle deaths, homicide, and alcohol-related medical conditions, the article says. In six studies that examined the association, a median reduction in alcohol-related motor vehicle deaths of 6.4 percent was found in areas with increased dram shop liability. The article also says that more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of enhanced enforcement of laws that prohibit overservice, or the service of alcoholic beverages to intoxicated customers.

Excessive alcohol use causes more than 79,000 deaths in the United States each year and contributes to a wide range of health and social problems. For more information, see www.thecommunityguide.org.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • The Top 5 Safety and Technology Trends to Watch in 2019

    Get the latest on trends you can expect to hear more about in 2019, including continued growth of mobile safety applications, wearable technology, and smart PPE; autonomous vehicles; pending OSHA recordkeeping rulemaking; and increased adoption of international safety standard, ISO 45001.

  • Get the Ultimate Guide to OSHA Recordkeeping

    OSHA’s Form 300A posting deadline is February 1! Are you prepared? To help answer your key recordkeeping questions, IndustrySafe put together this guide with critical compliance information.

  • Safety Training 101

    When it comes to safety training, no matter the industry, there are always questions regarding requirements and certifications. We’ve put together a guide on key safety training topics, requirements for certifications, and answers to common training questions.

  • Conduct EHS Inspections and Audits

    Record and manage your organization’s inspection data with IndustrySafe’s Inspections module. IndustrySafe’s pre-built forms and checklists may be used as is, or can be customized to better suit the needs of your organization.

  • Industry Safe

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - January 2019

    January 2019


      Production vs. Safety 
      Meeting the Requirements for Emergency Equipment
      The State of Contractor Safety
      The Three Keys to Effective Chemical Management
    View This Issue