TABC Issues

Dram Shop Liability & Safe Harbor

Alcohol beverage providers can be liable for damages in a civil suit if it’s proven that the provider sold or served alcohol and it was apparent to the provider that the person served was ‘obviously intoxicated’ to the extent theypresented a clear danger to themselves and others, and the intoxication of that individual cased damages to a third party.

The Dram Shop Law makes it possible for a victim to sue an establishment for over-service of alcohol. But the most significant part of the Texas law is the Safe Harbor provision which helps establishments that service alcohol avoid civil liabilities.

In order to use the Safe Harbor provision, the establishment must meet a three-part test:

  • The employer required its employees to attend a TABC approved seller training program;
  • The employee actually attended the program;
  • And the employer did not directly or indirectly encourage the employee to serve intoxicated customers.

To prove this, have documentation detailing employee training, written employment policies about over-serving, and regular meetings with employees to let them know that you will support their decision to cut-off intoxicated customers, and explaining alcohol service and over-serving.

Also, verify that 100% of your staff who sell or serve alcohol, including managers, have a valid, current TABC certification to make sure your business is protected.

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Sample Alcohol Service Policy


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