In Missouri, if you are at a social gathering where someone is hosting a party, they are not responsible for stopping you from drinking too much or taking your keys if you have been drinking.
It would make sense that if you are out either at a bar or restaurant or at someone’s house for a party, it is your responsibility to say when you’ve had too much to drink and not to drink and drive. But there are times when, if you drink too much while away from home and you get charged with a DUI, you can hold the place or establishment where you were drinking liable in a court of law for either serving you alcohol without checking to make sure you aren’t intoxicated or for not preventing you from getting behind the wheel.
Dram shop laws relate to someone being licensed to serve alcohol to a patron who is clearly intoxicated without taking steps to ensure that they don’t get in the car and drive home drunk. Missouri Statutes section 537-053 guides the laws related to serving someone who is “visibly intoxicated,” and then allowing them to walk out the door and drive away.
Someone who is “visibly intoxicated” is anyone who shows signs of physical impairment that could cloud their driving ability. Differing from other states in the Union, Missouri law says that dram shop laws only apply to those vendors who are licensed to sell liquor in exchange for payment with the assumption that the alcohol will be consumed on the premises. This means they only apply to those eateries and restaurants or taverns that allow the alcohol that they sell to be drunk while they are on the premises where they were sold. Dram shop laws, therefore, do not apply to liquor stores that sell alcohol to be taken out or consumed somewhere else.
Social host laws in Missouri
In Missouri, if you are at a social gathering where someone is hosting a party, they are not responsible for stopping you from drinking too much or taking your keys if you have been drinking. Regardless of your age, if you’re drinking at a social gathering the host is not responsible for paying if you overdo it and are charged with a DUI – or even worse, if you get into an accident where someone gets hurt.
So, unlike other states that hold social hosts liable for ensuring that their guests don’t overdo it and try to drive, Missouri makes it a personal choice and responsibility for anyone who drinks at a party and gets behind the wheel after drinking too much. In Missouri, you are responsible for monitoring your own drinking before you drive home. If you are at a party and you drive home drunk and get caught or get into an accident, you have no recourse against anyone who served you alcohol – regardless of your age or theirs.
If you are charged with DUI in Missouri and want to use dram shop laws to hold someone else liable, the only way that you can do so is if someone over-served you while you were on their premises and they had a license to sell alcohol – period. If you drink and drive in Missouri, unless your bartender or waiter gave you too much, it is all on you.