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How To Prevent Dram Shop Liability When Throwing A Party In Michigan?

The dram shop law in Michigan is one of the best laws that is known by many people. It is considered the best because it protects parties from any danger and transfers the responsibility from the person who got drunk to the person who gave them to drink. Of course from the point of view of the shop owner or the bartender or the person who handed over the drink this is not a good law.

With that, more and more people are very scared of throwing a party because they think that they can be liable under Michigan’s Dram Shop Law if anything should happen. Here at Haque Legal, we want to make sure that you will know everything you need to do to fight for your rights. Hence, we have created this article to help you know about your dram shop liability in Michigan.

The Two Categories Under The Law

Under Michigan’s Dram Shop Law, there are two categories under the Dram Shop Law of who may be held liable – the retail licensee and the social host. 

Who is the retail licensee? 

The retail licensee is the person who owns a bar or a restaurant who is allowed by law to sell liquor to individuals in their establishment. They are not the subject of our topic. The subject of our topic for this article is the second category under Michigan law – the social hosts.

Who is the social host? 

The social host is the person who is hosting a social event or gathering – of whatever kind. The social host is an individual who is hosting a social event.

Are the liabilities of the two categories the same?

Yes, both the retail licensee and the social host are required to refrain from serving alcohol to minors as well as to those who are visibly drunk.

Who files the suit?

The nature of a dram shop liability is a third-party claim. It is not the injured party who caused the accident and drunk out of his mind who has a right to file a suit, it is the third party who is injured by an adult who was served while visibly drunk or below the year of the majority that has the right to go after the dram shop owner. This is clear on the following provision of law:

The alleged visibly intoxicated person shall not have a cause of action according to this section and a person shall not have a cause of action according to this section for the loss of financial support, services, gifts, parental training, guidance, love, society, or companionship of the alleged visibly intoxicated person.

In this case, the nature of a dram shop liability suit is a third-party claim.

What needs to be established?

An injured person must establish that the proximate cause of the injury or the death is the failure of the individual to stop serving the person who caused the injury while he is visibly drunk or below the age of consent. 

In this sense, there is only a specific timeframe as to when the bar owner or the liquor store must be serving the person who caused the injury. 

Once this element is established, the suit would have a strong case against the dram shop owner. 

Can the parties settle?

The parties may enter into a settlement. It is always encouraged in the law to prevent litigation as much as possible. Under Michigan’s dram shop law, if a claim is brought against the bar or a restaurant that served a person who is visibly intoxicated, the drunk driver must be part of the suit.

Hence, if the parties decide to settle with the drunk driver, they must settle with the dram shop owner. This is embodied in the following provision of law, to wit:

An action under this section against a retail licensee shall not be commenced unless the minor or the alleged intoxicated person is a named defendant in the action and is retained in the action until the litigation is concluded by trial or settlement.”

After all, a case filed under the dram shop law is a third-party claim. The action can only be retained until the litigation is concluded by trial or by settlement for all parties.

What is the best defense when the person who caused the injury is a minor?

While the dram shop owner is presumed to be liable for selling or serving liquor to a minor, this is just a presumption. The dram shop owner can use the defense that he was able to check the identification and age of the minor and he saw no problems. This is embodied in the following provision of law:

All defenses of the alleged visibly intoxicated person or the minor shall be available to the licensee. In an action alleging the unlawful sale of alcoholic liquor to a minor, proof that the defendant retail licensee or the defendant’s agent or employee demanded and was shown a Michigan driver license or official state personal identification card, appearing to be genuine and showing that the minor was at least 21 years of age, shall be a defense to the action.”

Contact Your Lawyer Today

If you have a problem relating to dram shop liability in Michigan that you need assistance with, you should contact a Southfield criminal defense attorney today. A lawyer can help you get started with your defense. A lawyer at Haque Legal will see to it that your needs are met from the beginning to the end of the proceedings. You are always in good hands with Haque Legal and what it has to offer.


The article that you have read is based on general applications of the law. It is not legal advice and it is not to be construed as any legal consultation with the firm. No client-attorney relationship is created when you read the articles we have provided.

Let us help you out.

If you are having trouble with parties relating to dram shop liability, call us immediately. If you have any problem with the law or are seeking justice and truth, our numbers are standing by to take your call.