Dram shop laws are laws that state the seller of alcohol to an intoxicated person holds responsibility if that person later drives drunk and harms someone else.
The Ohio Revised Code states that the general rule is that those serving or selling alcohol hold no liability if the buyer later causes injury, damage or death due to drunk driving. However, there are exceptions.
If the accident takes place on the property where the business or person sold the alcohol to the intoxicated person, then there is a liability. For example, if a bartender sells a person alcohol and then that person goes into the parking lot and gets into an accident, the bar could face liability for the damages and injuries that result.
There are also two conditions under which a seller of alcohol could face liability, but both conditions must be present. The buyer must be noticeably intoxicated or underage and the intoxication must be the direct cause of the injury or damage.
For example, if a bartender serves someone who is clearly too drunk to drive and then that person causes an auto accident, the bar could face liability. Also, if the bartender serves someone who under the age of 21 to purchase alcohol and that person causes an accident due to driving drunk, then the bar could face liability.
The property owner of an establishment that sells alcohol is not liable in any situation for the acts of intoxicated patrons if that owner does not also own the business selling the alcohol. For example, if a bar rents space in a building, the property owner has no liability.