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The state of North Carolina is one of several states that has dram shop laws, or laws stating the liabilities of bars, nightclubs, and/or tavernkeepers after an incident in which personal injuries are involved. Specifically,‘s law dictionary states that it imposes "strict liability upon the seller of intoxicating beverages when the sale results in harm to a third party’s person, property, or means of support." discusses the origins of the term itself. It originates from colonial times when a term of measurement called a "dram" was used to serve alcohol in establishments ("shops") that served alcohol.

Most states have some form of dram shop laws, though some are more strict than others. The web site for the Wisconsin State Bar has established a table showing dram shop liability by state. According to that table, there are eight states with no liability: Arkansas, Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota, and Virginia.

Despite the laws differing between states, lists common elements between different states’ dram shop laws. In general,

Although dram shop laws among the states vary widely, there are some common elements of liability. Generally, grounds to file a lawsuit includes the following: A vendor or seller of alcohol (the employees of a vendor are considered to be an agent of the vendor), alcohol is served or sold to a person who is intoxicated (one whose drinking appears to have diminished their capacity for thinking and acting normally) or a minor, and said intoxication being the proximate cause of a person or property being injured.

Though some states, like the ones previously mentioned, have no liability for dram shop laws, and some, such as Illinois, tend to be more strict, there are some like North Carolina, with limited liability, depending on the situation. The Wisconsin Bar’s table shows North Carolina as having strict liability for vendors serving alcohol to minors, but limited liability for vendors serving alcohol to intoxicated adults and minors and serving as a social host to intoxicated adults.

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