Ohio’s Dram Shop Statute

When the employee of a bar or restaurant serves a person alcoholic beverages to a person who becomes noticeably intoxication before causing a traffic crash, then the bar or restaurant can be held liable for accidents that resulted from that negligence.

For civil liability to apply under Ohio’s Dram Shop Act, the evidence must show that the person was noticeably intoxicated at the time of service—not at the time the person leaves the bar. In many of these cases, witnesses will remember that the person appeared to be drunk because he had clues of impairment such as bloodshot or watery eyes, slurred speech, or an odor of alcoholic beverages on his breath.

The witness might also remember that the person was unsteady on his or her feet, swayed while standing, or showed other signs of intoxication due to the alcohol consumed at the bar or restaurant.

Contact the car accident attorneys at Steiden Law Offices to discuss your case. Our personal injury attorneys represent the victim of drunk driving accidents by suing the drunk driver and the bar that served the driver the last drink.

Call Steiden Law Offices today to discuss your case.

Attorneys for Dram Shop Lawsuits in Ohio

Contact an attorney at Steiden Law Offices to discuss the application of Ohio's dram shop statute found in R.C. 4399.18. In these lawsuits, your attorney can bring a civil lawsuit for money damages against a bar or restaurant who served alcohol to a person who later drove drunk and caused personal injury, death, or property damage. Those lawsuits are based on the negligent actions of an intoxicated person on the premises or the establishment's parking lot.

The permit holder or an employee of the permit holder knowingly sold an intoxicating beverage to at least one of the following:

  1. A noticeably intoxicated person in violation of division (B) of section 4301.22 of the Revised Code;
  2. A person in violation of section 4301.69 of the Revised Code;
  3. The person's intoxication proximately caused the personal injury, death, or property damage.

Filing Lawsuits under Ohio's Dram Shop Statute

R.C. 4399.18, Ohio's dram shop statute, provides that:

A person has a cause of action against a permit holder or an employee of a permit holder for personal injury, death, or property damage caused by the negligent actions of an intoxicated person occurring off the premises or away from a parking lot under the permit holder's control only when both of the following can be shown by a preponderance of the evidence:

The permit holder or an employee of the permit holder knowingly sold an intoxicating beverage to at least one of the following:

  1. A noticeably intoxicated person in violation of division (B) of section 4301.22 of the Revised Code;
  2. A person in violation of section 4301.69 of the Revised Code;
  3. The person's intoxication proximately caused the personal injury, death, or property damage.

Ohio law requires that a lawsuit against a restaurant or bar under R.C. 4399.18 must establish that a liquor permit holder or its employee had actual knowledge that the person to whom an intoxicating beverage was sold was noticeably intoxicated. 


Proving Actual Knowledge of the Driver's Intoxication

Although actual knowledge may be established through direct or circumstantial evidence, a mere showing of constructive knowledge is not enough. Some cases have held that the belief of a witness cannot be imputed to the employees or their employer to demonstrate actual knowledge of intoxication. 

For instance, in Privett v. QSL–Milford, L.L.C., 12th Dist. Clermont No. CA2013-04-025, 2013-Ohio-4129,  a witness's testimony that a patron allegedly served in violation of R.C. 4399.18 was intoxicated could not be used to impute actual knowledge of noticeable intoxication to the liquor permit holder.

Likewise, in Caplinger v. Korrzan Restaurant Mgmt., Inc, 12th Dist. Butler No. CA2011-06-099, 2011-Ohio-6020, testimony from a witness who had received a phone call from a patron allegedly served in violation of R.C. 4399.18 that she knew the patron was drunk because of the way he spoke and his hyper mood did not establish that the patron had been noticeably intoxicated at the time that he had been served alcohol.


This article was last updated on Friday, September 1, 2017.

Visit Our Bankruptcy Website
Ask the Attorney for a Free Case Review

* All fields are required.

About Us - Who We Are Steiden Law Firm Convienient Office Locations
Cincinnati, OH
830 Main St #401 Cincinnati, OH 45202
Cincinnati, OH
260 Northland Blvd #129 Cincinnati, OH 45246
Covington, KY
411 Madison Avenue Covington, KY 41011
Florence, KY
6900 Houston Rd #21 Florence, KY 41042
Maineville, OH
2263 W US 22 and 3 Maineville, OH 45039
Cincinnati, OH
4030 Mt Carmel Tobasco Rd #129 Cincinnati, OH 45255
West Chester, OH
8050 Becket Center Dr #131 West Chester, OH 45069