Illinois dram shop liability

When a drunk driver causes an accident, he or she holds personal liability for damages and injuries. However, the driver may not be the only one with legal responsibility. 

Illinois does have a dram shop law, according to the Illinois General Assembly. The law states that any person who sells alcohol to someone to get that person in a state of intoxication has liability if that person causes an accident that injures another person. 

To whom it applies

According to the Chicago Bar,  the dram shop law applies to any place that has an alcohol license and sells alcoholic beverages. When serving alcohol, it is the establishment’s responsibility to ensure it is not serving individuals to the point of intoxication. Bartenders have the right to cut off service if they feel a patron is too drunk. 


The entity serving the alcohol is responsible for injuries or harm that comes from the intoxicated person’s actions. However, the entity has no liability for injuries the intoxicated person sustains. So, if there is an accident, for example, but only the intoxicated person suffers an injury, then the alcohol serving entity has no liability. 


There is a statute of limitation for someone who wishes to sue under the dram shop law of one year. In addition, there are maximum liability limits. Most places serving alcohol have insurance for this reason, but it is the state that puts the cap of damage claims. In addition, if more than one place is liable, the limit applies to them collectively, even if a person sues each one individually.