Retail liability may reduce alcohol deaths

Aug. 10, 2011 at 11:03 PM   |   Comments

ATLANTA, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say deaths, homicides and injuries drop when retail alcohol establishments are liable for injuries from their intoxicated customers or minors.

The Community Preventive Services Task Force -- an independent volunteer body of public health and prevention experts -- determined commercial host liability, otherwise known as dram shop liability, can be an effective intervention for reducing alcohol-related harms.

A dram shop is any retail establishment where alcohol is sold. Dram shop liability refers to laws that provide for the liability of retail establishments that sell alcohol for the injuries or harms caused by their intoxicated or underage customers, the experts said.

The task force, which conducted a systematic review of all available studies, found that these types of laws -- in 44 states and the District of Columbia -- encouraged more responsible beverage serving because managers and servers have an incentive to more closely manage their beverage service to intoxicated and underage customers.

Although provisions vary among the states, all the laws require holding commercial hosts liable for their conduct, the experts said.

The report, scheduled to be published online ahead of the September print issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, said a median reduction in alcohol-related motor vehicle deaths of 6.4 percent was found in areas with increased dram shop liability.

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