In the United States, many businesses exist that are permitted to sell customers alcoholic beverages. These businesses may be taverns, bars, or restaurants. Such places are referred to as dram shops. The term dram shop was derived from the past use of dram, referring to a small amount, in selling units of alcohol. The term is Old English in derivation but now refers to any establishment that sells any amount or unit of alcohol.
Dram shop is common legal terminology, and pertains mostly to the liability of dram shops when selling alcohol. Dram shop laws refer to the set of laws that govern the manner in which alcohol is sold in establishments that have been recognized as dram shops. These laws establish the liability or responsibility of each dram shop. It is the obligation of any dram shop to respect the dram shop laws otherwise the establishment may be shut down.
Dram shop laws usually address issues such as selling any amount of alcohol to individuals who do not show proper identification with a birth date, or selling any amount of alcohol to minors, or even worse, to already intoxicated minors. The liability of dram shops extends to the consequences of providing minors with access to liquor. If an intoxicated minor experiences a car accident due to the negligence of the dram shop to check for proper identification, then the dram shop is liable as well for the car accident. These incidents are not limited to minors, but apply to everyone.