New York Dram Shop Law

New York Dram Shop Law

You need to know the following NYS definition of Dram Shop Law for this question:

New York dram shop law is found in section 11-101 of the New York General Obligations law. Under this law, it is illegal for businesses to serve alcohol to persons who are visibly intoxicated. The definition of “visibly intoxicated” is left largely to the discretion of the employee who serves the alcohol. Tell-tale signs of visible intoxication may include slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, and lack of physical coordination.

New York is unique in that patrons themselves may not sue the business establishment. Instead, the bar or tavern may be held liable for damages caused to third parties who were injured by the patrons of the bar who were served alcohol. For example, if a bar serves a person alcohol, then that person drives away and injures another person in a car accident, the people injured may sue the bar for contributions.

In order for the drinking establishment to be held liable, the plaintiff must prove:

  • The person who injured them was intoxicated
  • The defendant (the bar or tavern) sold or provided liquor to the intoxicated person
  • The defendant also caused or contributed to the person’s subsequent intoxication

complaints of underage drinking

The ACME Police Department, having complaints of underage drinking at the ACME Bar & Grill, enter without a warrant and conduct an Alcoholic Beverage Control Act underage drinking check. Officers find Wile E. Coyote, Jr., age 18, at the bar and visibly drinking a beer. On approach they ask for his identification and he presents them with a fake ID card. He is removed from the bar and charged with violations of underage drinking and forged identification, as the ID card looked nothing like him. Further, the bartender is told to step outside to the patrol car where he is arrested for Prohibited Sale of Alcoholic Beverage to a Minor and the Penal Law charge of Unlawfully Dealing with a Child.

Forms were filed with NYS to have the business’s license to sell alcoholic beverages suspended or revoked. Both the bartender, the bar owner and Coyote plead Not Guilty to the charges. Coyote states that he was not read his Miranda Warnings when arrested and that it was an unlawful search by the police, as they do not have the right to check for identification. The bartender also claims that the police had no right entering the establishment unannounced, and that he, too, was never read his warnings. Further, there was no proof that he ever served the beer to the minor. Lastly, the bar owner said that the license punishment should be negated, as Coyote showed valid NYS identification to the bartender, even though it was not his. He claims the bartender is not required to secure multiple proofs of identification.

license to sell alcoholic beverages

Hint – check both Sections 65 of the NYS Alcoholic Beverage Control Act

Complete the following to engage in the discussion process


  1. Were the actions of the police entering the bar legal?
  2. Was this an illegal search by the police when asking for identification from Coyote, as there was no proof of a crime having been committed at that time?
  3. Were the police required to read Miranda Rights to Coyote?
  4. Were the police required to read Miranda Rights to the bartender?
  5. Do the police have sufficient probable cause to file for the revocation of the bar license?

6.. Create one question to pose to the class regarding this case.

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