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Dram Shop Laws in Oklahoma: Holding Bars & Restaurants Liable

Drunk drivers should be held financially liable for any harm they cause to other people after causing a car accident. A successful injury claim filed against a drunk driver can deter them from ever driving while intoxicated again. Oklahoma liquor laws do not stop at trying to deter drunk driving habits, though. The state’s dram shop laws can actually allow you to also hold the person who got a driver drunk accountable for any resulting accidents and damages in some limited circumstances.

How Do Oklahoma’s Dram Shop Laws Work?

In Oklahoma, it is strictly illegal to sell, provide, or deliver alcoholic beverages to anyone who is obviously intoxicated. This criminal statute is backed by civil liability case law that eventually reached the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which found that an alcohol vendor could be financially liable for damages caused in a crash by a patron who was served alcohol despite being drunk already. An “alcohol vendor” can be a bar, restaurant, brewery, or any other place of business that sells or supplies patrons with alcoholic drinks.

The more important term in the legal statute is “noticeably intoxicated.” What does it mean to be noticeably intoxicated since the statement seems to be subjective? Actually, the subjective nature of the description is intentional, as it allows for a judge’s or jury’s discretion if a dram shop injury claim reaches the court.

However, there are some arguably objective signs of intoxication, such as:

  • Slurred or excessively loud speech
  • Balance issues
  • Mood swings or belligerence
  • Damp, clammy skin

When someone exhibits some of these common signs of intoxication, a bartender or server should stop selling them any alcohol. Otherwise, they could also be liable for any damage that person causes later. Damage caused by an intoxicated person is not even limited to car crashes. Dram shop laws in Oklahoma apply to any sort of damage, such as a fall injury caused by a drunk person stumbling into someone and making them tumble down a flight of stairs.

What Damages Can You Recover in a Dram Shop Lawsuit?

In a dram shop lawsuit in Oklahoma, you can seek damages to help pay for your:

  • Medical bills and treatment costs
  • Wages lost due to missing work
  • Vehicle repair costs
  • Noneconomic damages like pain and suffering

You have two years in Oklahoma to file a claim against a drunk driver and the bar that served them alcohol while they were noticeably intoxicated. Since you will likely be fielding two separate claims – one against the drunk driver and one against the alcohol vendor – it is highly advised that you choose to work with a personal injury attorney to guide you through all legal processes, such as filing a claim or taking a case to litigation.

Martin Jean & Jackson represents injured clients throughout Oklahoma. Call if you were hurt by a drunk driver and you suspect they were allowed to become overly intoxicated due to the negligence of a bar, restaurant, or brewery. We can help you seek compensation in any and all claims you should file.