The sale of alcoholic beverages generates billions of dollars in the United States each year. Unfortunately, many alcohol-serving establishments put their profits over the safety of their customers and patrons. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, more than 1,000 Texans die each year because someone chooses to drive while impaired by alcohol.  

Even though Texas has dram shop liability laws prohibiting alcohol-serving establishments (bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and others) from serving obviously intoxicated persons, many drunk driving collisions occur because the impaired motorist was overserved.

If you or someone you care about was involved in a drunk driving crash, you might have legal recourse against the establishment that served alcohol to the impaired motorist. As a dram shop liability attorney at Jose Orihuela, Attorney at Law, I can review your unique case and help you understand if you can sue the establishment that overserved the drunk driver. I serve accident victims in Webster, Houston, Pasadena, Santa Fe, League City, Clear Lake, and throughout the state of Texas.



Dram Shop Liability Law in Texas

In Texas, the dram shop liability law refers to the legal theory that any establishment serving or selling alcohol must not serve alcohol to persons who are already obviously intoxicated. Dram shop liability laws differ from one state to another. However, the dram shop liability law in Texas permits victims to hold alcohol-serving establishments liable for crashes caused by their overserved customers or patrons.

Filing a dram shop liability claim requires showing the following two elements:

  1. The establishment saw or should have reasonably seen that the customer or patron was obviously intoxicated; and

  2. The intoxication of the patron or customer was a proximate cause of the victim’s injuries or death.

The theory of dram shop liability provides accident victims with an additional avenue to obtain compensation for their damages and losses. Let’s look at an example: A bartender serves alcohol to a customer who shows obvious signs of intoxication, including failure to keep balance, falling to the ground, slurred speech, and others. Then, the customer leaves the bar and gets behind the wheel of his vehicle. Moments later, the customer causes a road crash.

Applicability of Dram Shop Liability Law

Under the dram shop liability law in Texas, any establishment that sells or serves alcohol with a valid alcohol license or permit could be held liable for resulting damages and losses caused by visibly intoxicated patrons and customers. But what about social hosts and individuals who provide alcohol to their family members, friends, or strangers at private parties?

In Texas, the dram shop liability law applies to social hosts when they overserve a minor. A social host (an adult 21 years of age or older) can be held liable for the resulting harm caused by an intoxicated minor unless the host is the parent, spouse, or legal guardian of the underage individual.

Dram Shop Liability & Statute of Limitations

Determining whether or not a bar or another alcohol-serving establishment can be held liable for damages caused by a person to whom it served alcohol can be complicated. An in-depth investigation by a skilled personal injury attorney is often necessary to get to the bottom of the issue. An alcohol provider may be held liable under the dram shop liability law if you can prove that:

  • The establishment did not have policies in place to prevent bartenders and other employees from serving alcohol to visibly intoxicated individuals

  • The establishment or its employees failed to monitor the intoxicated person’s consumption of alcohol

  • The establishment’s employees were not trained to identify signs of alcohol intoxication

  • The establishment’s employees did not check the underage individual’s ID before serving them

Just like any other personal injury claim in Texas, a dram shop liability claim must be brought within a certain time. Under the statute of limitations, personal injury claims in Texas must be filed within two years from the date of the injury or accident.


If you or someone you love was hurt in a drunk driving collision, reach out to an experienced attorney to investigate your case and determine if you have a valid dram shop liability claim. At Jose Orihuela, Attorney at Law, I am dedicated to helping clients in Houston, Texas, and other parts of Texas exhaust all of their avenues of compensation to ensure that they receive the compensation to which they are entitled. Reach out to my office to discuss your particular situation.

Click the Settings Gear on the right to select a parent page that has child pages