In Dram Shop Laws – Improving Public Safety, dram shop expert witness Maj. Mark Willingham of Alcohol Solutions, LLC, writes:
The phase dram shop is based on a unit of measure popular in Victorian times; approximately 1/8th of an ounce in our vernacular, and has become synonymous with a prohibition on the over-service of beverage alcohol to a patron or guest. The principal purpose of dram shop laws is to protect the public; and even the drinker himself, from the over-service or over-consumption of beverage alcohol and from the service of alcohol to persons under 21 years of age. This law calls upon beverage licensees and their employees to play a significant role in the enforcement of this important public policy. No other business type comes to mind where the holder of a government license; by acceptance of that license, is required to act as an agent of the state in taking affirmative action to monitor and intercede in the behavior of a citizen/business invitee.
Responsible retailing involves the development and implementation of effective alcohol service policies, practices, employee training and management systems. These elements are the keys to responsible retailing and the prevention of acts and situations leading to a dram shop lawsuit. Conversely, irresponsible beverage retailers do not employ these elements or they have developed ineffective policies, practices, training and management systems that fall below a reasonable standard of care.