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Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility
tion required for all patrons who appear to be under 30;3 (5) guidelines and training as to what constitutes acceptable and valid identification; and (6) retailer-initiated compliance checks and enforcement of consequences for violation of policies.
Recommendation 9-4: States should require all sellers and servers of alcohol to complete state-approved training as a condition of employment.
State alcohol agencies should prescribe responsible beverage service and sales training, including all of the elements described above as a condition of licensing for retail outlets, and could consider using server licensing fees to offset the cost of this training. Aside from state alcoholic beverage control (ABC) regulatory requirements, all managers or owners of retail outlets have a social responsibility to develop and implement alcohol service policies to prevent sales to minors, to train their staff on these policies, and to enforce them. As discussed below, implementation of such a program might also serve as a defense against civil liability.
Dram Shop Liability
Dram shop liability laws allow individuals injured by a minor who is under the influence of alcohol to recover damages from the alcohol retailer who served or sold the alcohol to the minor who caused the injury (Mosher, 1979; Mosher et al., 2002; Sloan et al., 2000). In some states, the retailer can also be liable for the damages the minor causes to himself or herself. Owners and licensees can be held liable for their employees’ actions under most or all dram shop liability laws (Mosher et al., 2002). Many state courts have recognized dram shop liability as a common law cause of action—that is, the courts themselves establish the plaintiff’s right to sue under ordinary principles of common law negligence. The plaintiff must show that the retailer knew or should have known that the person being served was a minor, that the minor in fact consumed the alcohol, and that the consumption was a contributing cause of the harm.
Many courts recognized common law dram shop claims during the 1980s and early 1990s, overruling the traditional rule that the drinker was solely liable for any damage that he or she caused as a result of drinking. State legislatures have become increasingly active in this policy area, estab-
Electronic scanning of driver’s licenses is a promising method of assuring that IDs are valid. However, not all states currently issue scannable licenses, and the cost and inconvenience of scanning devices may reduce the willingness of some retailers to use them (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 2001).