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3.17-1 Dram Shop Act

Revised May 10, 2013

The plaintiff <name> alleges that the defendant <name> violated a statute known as the Dram Shop Act, which reads, in relevant part that:

“If any person, by such person or such person’s agent, sells any alcoholic liquor to an intoxicated person, and such purchaser, in consequence of such intoxication, thereafter injures the person or property of another, such seller shall pay just damages to the person injured . . . provided the aggrieved person or persons shall give written notice to such seller of such person’s or persons’ intention to bring an action under this section.1 Such notice shall be given (1) within one hundred twenty days of the occurrence of such injury to person or property, or (2) in case of the death or incapacity of any aggrieved person, within one hundred eighty days of the occurrence of such injury to person or property. Such notice shall specify the time, the date and the person to whom such sale was made, the name and address of the person injured or whose property was damaged, and the time, date and place where the injury to person or property occurred. . . .”

To establish that the defendant <name> violated the statute, the plaintiff <name> must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that:

  1. On <insert date>, the defendant <name>, through (his/her/its) agent or agents, sold alcoholic liquor to <name of customer>;
  2. <Name of customer> was intoxicated at the time of the sale; and
  3. In consequence of that intoxication, <name of customer> injured the plaintiff <name> or the plaintiff’s name property.

The defendant <name> disputes that <name of customer> was intoxicated when (he/she/it) sold the liquor to (him/her). In order to impose liability under this act, the plaintiff <name> must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that <name of customer> was intoxicated when the defendant <name> sold the liquor to (him/her). The plaintiff <name> cannot prevail on (his/her) claim unless you find that <name of customer> was visibly or otherwise perceivably intoxicated when the defendant <name> sold (him/her) liquor. The plaintiff <name> need prove only that the signs of <name of customer>’s intoxication could have been observed, not that they would have been obvious to anyone coming into contact with (him/her). This means that although a person is not ‘obviously intoxicated’ the fact that (he/she) is ‘intoxicated’ would be discoverable by reasonably active observation of (his/her) appearance, breath, speech, and action. This may require the supplier of liquor to engage the prospective purchaser in conversation, to note specifically the details of the purchaser’s physical appearance, to observe the purchaser’s conduct during the course of (his/her) drinking at the supplier’s establishment, or to scrutinize the action of the prospective customer in other ways by which the supplier may detect intoxication which is observable even though not obvious. Any perceptible indicator of intoxication at the time of service, including excessive alcohol consumption itself, can be sufficient to permit recovery.

To be intoxicated is something more than to be merely under the influence of, or affected to some extent by, liquor. Intoxication means an abnormal mental or physical condition due to the influence of intoxicating liquors, a visible excitation of the passions and impairment of the judgment, or a derangement or impairment of physical functions and energies. When it is apparent that a person is under the influence of liquor, when (his/her) manner is unusual or abnormal and is reflected in (his/her) walk or conversation, when (his/her) ordinary judgment or common sense are disturbed or (his/her) usual willpower temporarily suspended, when these or similar symptoms result from the use of liquor and are manifest, a person may be found to be intoxicated. (He/She) need not be ‘dead-drunk.’ It is enough if by the use of intoxicating liquor (he/she) is so affected in (his/her) acts or conduct that the public or parties coming in contact with (him/her) can readily see and know this is so.

Finally, the plaintiff <name> must also prove by a preponderance of the evidence that <name of customer>’s intoxication proximately caused the injury. I remind you that the plaintiff <name> does not have to prove that the liquor sold to <name of customer> by the defendant name produced or contributed to <name of customer>’s intoxication.

<Insert Proximate Cause - Definition, Instruction 3.1-3 and Proximate Cause - Substantial Factor, Instruction 3.1-4.>
1 If notice is an issue, then you must read the notice portion of the statute.


General Statutes § 30-102; O’Dell v. Kozee, 307 Conn. 231 (2012); Wentland v. American Equity Ins. Co., 267 Conn. 592, 603-605 (2004); Sanders v. Officers Club of Connecticut, Inc., 196 Conn. 341, 349-50 (1985); Pierce v. Albanese, 144 Conn. 241, 253-55, appeal dismissed, 355 U.S. 15, 78 S. Ct. 36, 2 L. Ed. 2d 21 (1957).


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