Indiana Dram Shop Act Get your
Free Consultation
Custy Law Firm | Accident & Injury Lawyers

June 24, 2019

Indiana Dram Shop Act

The first question a person might ask is, “What is a dram shop?”  A dram shop typically refers to a bar or tavern, but Indiana’s law extends liability beyond these traditional venues to any person or entity who furnishes alcoholic beverages to an intoxicated person.  Ind. Code § 7.1-5-10-15.5.  This means that the owner of a bowling alley where alcoholic beverages are served, a charity event that serves wine, or even a wedding with an open champagne bar could all fall within the purview of the Indiana Dram Shop Act.

There are three common defenses under the Act that may provide some protection from lawsuits:  not being the actual furnisher of the alcoholic beverage, not having knowledge that the person to whom alcohol was furnished was intoxicated, or that person’s intoxicated state not being the proximate cause of the harm.

A.    Furnishing Alcohol

Indiana law states that “furnish” means to barter, deliver, sell, exchange, provide, or give away.  Indiana courts have interpreted this not to include simply providing money for another to purchase an alcoholic beverage.  See Rogers v. Martin, 651 N.E.2d 305 (Ind. Ct. App. 1995).  Nor does a provider furnish alcohol where they merely provide the alcohol for an intermediary or reseller to distribute.  See Weida v. Dowden, 664 N.E.2d 742 (Ind. Ct. App. 1996).  However, keep in mind that giving drinks away does count as furnishing – and providing alcohol to underaged minors is also considered furnishing under the Act.

B.    Lack of Knowledge

Knowledge of intoxication can be implied in various ways by looking at the surrounding circumstances.  First, knowledge of intoxication can be implied where a person has been repeatedly served by the same waiter.  Additionally, mere carelessness as to who has access to alcohol can trigger liability because courts may find that lack of monitoring who the ultimate consumer is and how much that consumer has had to drink may constitute a reason to know that some will become intoxicated as a result.  Muex v. Hindel Bowling Lanes, Inc., 596 N.E.2d 263 (Ind. Ct. App. 1992).  However, if there is no indication that a person was visibly intoxicated or behaving in a manner that would lead a person to suspect they were intoxicated, then furnishing them with alcohol ordinarily will not trigger liability under the Indiana Dram Shop Act.

C.    Proximate Cause

Indiana’s liability law for furnishing alcoholic beverages to intoxicated persons is framed as an “and.”  What this means is that, to establish liability, a person or entity must:  (1) furnish the alcohol; (2) to a person known by the one furnishing the alcohol to be visibly intoxicated; and (3) the intoxication must be the proximate cause of the death, injury, or damage.  Here, furnishing alcohol will likely be considered the proximate cause where the intoxicated person acts recklessly or negligently to cause harm.  However, intentional acts such as criminal mischief will sometimes be seen as beyond the scope of liability from the mere furnishing of alcohol.  See Merchant’s Nat’l Bank v. Simrell’s Sports Bar & Grill, 741 N.E.2d 383, 389 (Ind. Ct. App. 2000).

Understanding your options if you or a loved one has been injured as a result of an intoxicated person can be a complex and nuanced process.  Each case often has a unique set of facts that courts will inquire into in order to determine liability.  If you or a loved one has been harmed, we are available to help review those facts with you and assist you in navigating your options.

In The News

Dec 01
How to Request an Accident Report

Requesting a police report after a car accident is one of the most critical steps you can take. It might contain the details you need to show another driver’s actions… Read More

Five Tips for Safe Travel During the Holidays
Nov 01

December is one of the busiest times of the year on the road. As increased numbers of people travel to spend time with their loved ones over the holidays, the… Read More

How Are Truck Accidents Different from Other Auto Accidents?
Oct 15

We need the trucking industry to help make our lives easier. Trucks deliver our groceries and our goods. They deliver fuel for our vehicles and provide a livelihood for many… Read More

How to Prevent Autumn Motorcycle Accidents
Sep 16

There is nothing like the fall season. The air is crisp and pleasant, and the leaves are spectacular. We are entering into the holiday season, with Halloween and Thanksgiving approaching.… Read More

Brian Custy Recognized as Top 10 Trucking Accident Lawyer in Indiana
Mar 18

Brian Custy, the founder of , has been recognized as a Top 10 Trucking Accident Lawyer in Indiana by The National Trial Lawyers: Top 10 Trucking Trial Lawyers Association. This… Read More


I originally tried to use our legal counsel from my union. I was getting lowball offers, and after I refused to accept their offer, I was fired by my very… Read More


Since day one i have received the best service that anybody can ask for. Mr. Custy and Melissa have been such caring and trustworthy people. They really make you feel… Read More

- Joel Marquart

“Mr. Custy is an excellent lawyer that not only takes care of business but actually takes the time to listen to his clients. Mr. Custy cares and that is why… Read More


I have had the pleasure of working with Attorney Custy for the past two years on two cases at the same time. This has been the hardest thing I have… Read More


“Brian Custy is a terrific lawyer that takes the time to walk you through the entire process, explaining all of the details that often times get overlooked. His follow-up was… Read More


“Mr. Custy is a very good lawyer. He goes out of his way to make sure he is doing the best he can for your case. He is always there… Read More


“ Custy Law Firm | Accident & Injury Lawyers has gone above and beyond while working on my case. I was injured on the job and Brian has given me… Read More

View All Testimonials
National Association of Distinguished Counsels
Illinois State Bar Association Logo
Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys
National Trial Lawyers top 100 Attorneys Logo
NTL Top 10 for Trucking Litigation
National Institute for Trial Advocacy
Indiana Trial Lawyers Assocation
Trial Lawyer's College Thunderhead Ranch Logo
American Association for Justice Logo
Irist Legal 100 Logo