Alcohol, as a beverage, can be classified as an intoxicant. There are different forms of alcohol sold in the market. Sale of alcohol can be carried out in social eating and drinking places. They range from strong spirits to mild wine depending on the percentage of alcoholic content. It has been known to be a social beverage for centuries among adult community members. People tend to take alcohol in the evenings as a way of relaxing after a day of work and or during celebrations. Physicians may recommend alcohol for digestion purposes. Alcohol is available to patrons in exclusive permitted establishments. Off the shelf sale of alcohol is permitted but not consumption there and then.
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Dram shop is a term used to refer establishments where alcohol beverages are sold. Laws were put in place for the accountability to establishments arising out of the self-service retailing of alcohol beverages to clearly drunk patrons or minors. These patrons can cause harm to themselves or others who were not involved in their drinking. These are well intended for guiding behavior in the public. Concerned groups have championed for the enforcement and ratifying of these laws. The laws have drawn criticism as people claim it can cause acts of irresponsibility among the patrons.
Serving alcohol to minors is illegal in all 50 states. Several states impress charge on bars for serving minors who subsequently harm themselves or others as a way of deterring the illegal practice of serving minors alcohol. In some states minors have legal authority to sue a drinking establishment for their own injury sustained while drunk. Some states have dram laws that extend to serving the routinely intoxicated. Dram shop law has been applied differently across the US. States such as Michigan and Alaska have drunk-driving fatality rates that are low on average, yet the law is narrow in the states. Compared to Illinois where the law is much broader, the fatalities are higher on average. In New Jersey, the dram shop act monitors consumption of alcohol in cases involving self service. Usually, this provides patrons with a civil remedy when they are harmed as a result of self-service by establishments to clearly drunk patrons. Some cases arise where attorneys argue that their clients did not see as if the consumer was intoxicated, and allowed the self-service to them. The law is silent on imposing an obligation to supervise alcohol handling and consumption.
It is clear that the dram act was put in place to be a way of protection and service. As much as it helps many recover losses, it has also created a sense of irresponsibility among individuals. Some areas have the dram act but it is narrower, hence people get more responsible as there is no safety net as such in case of damages. This enables sale and consumption of alcohol to be a choice that is equally shouldered by the establishments and the consumers. In areas where the dram act is widely established, irresponsibility is encouraged without knowledge. A business person has enough liabilities to ponder on in business. Additional liabilities create unfavorable conditions for the business to survive. Individuals should be responsible in their conduct when intoxicated. Laws such as if you drink then you don’t drive can reduce accidents more than the dram law of going back to the seller of the alcohol to pay for any liability caused. On the other hand, the law enforces sale to minors as these are perceived as not knowing what they are doing or the result of their actions. Law makers should review acts in accordance with the change in times. Usually it is painful to accept change, but, if we accept it we should look at the benefits we derive from the change as opposed to just resisting change.
Having a law is necessary to guide individuals and establishments in a large society; however, some laws such as the dram law need to be used in conjunction with other laws. Some may be moral laws and others state laws. This will create a responsible society which knows that their action or lack of actions can lead to injuries and in some cases fatality. The dram shop law as exists can cause investors to shy away from venturing into business, especially if they see the clients as being young and irresponsible. Most developed countries have put in place laws that protect the individual who is intoxicated on personal responsibility. Patrons, like minors, will want to break a law knowingly just for show off to their peers. Protecting the individual can be imposed by not allowing self-service after late hours and closing the section. A smaller area is easier to monitor. This will avoid accidents and incidents that occur due to lack of responsibility.
List of references
Lependorf & Silverstein. New Jersey’s DRAM shop ACT- Social club’s Duty. 2009.Web.
The attorney’s forum. The Drum shop ACT, 2008. Web.