Understanding Arizona Dram Shop Law
A drunk driver is held liable for their actions and pays for damages if they cause injuries or property damage to another individual while driving. But Arizona’s dram shop laws may hold other parties accountable besides the driver.
These include establishments and individuals responsible for serving visibly intoxicated patrons.
For example, during a 2007 incident of Patterson v. Thunder Pass Inc., employees observed a bar patron driving forward over a parking block after backing into a parked Jeep. After confiscating her keys, the bar employee called a taxi to transport her home.
No taxi cabs were available, and another employee drove her home and returned her keys. A few hours later, the drunk patron returned to the bar, retrieved her vehicle, and drove head-on into another car after driving the wrong way.
The other vehicle’s driver and passenger filed a dram shop case against the bar owner claiming that the bar had a duty not to serve an intoxicated patron and that driving the patron home did not eliminate its responsibility.
Here is more on the Arizona Dram Shop Act.
Dram Shop Liability in Arizona
“Dram shops” originate from the 1700s and refer to any establishment that provides alcohol to the public during its regular operation. Nowadays, dram shops include wineries, breweries, restaurants, bars, convenience stores, gas stations, grocery stores, and other establishments that sell alcohol.
A licensed bar or restaurant can be held liable for injuries or property damage caused by an impaired individual if the following situations apply, as described in Arizona Revised Statutes 4-311, 4-312, and 4-244:
- An intoxicated person was served or sold alcohol
- A minor was served or sold alcohol
- Property damage or injuries is directly related to alcohol consumption
The laws of Arizona expressly prohibit social hosts from being liable for supplying alcohol to guests of the legal drinking age. But lawsuits against a social host who serves alcohol to underage guests are not prohibited by the law.
“Statute Of Limitations” Applies to Social Host and Liquor Store Liability Cases
You must file a dram shop claim within two years of the injury or damage in Arizona. It’s best to speak with an attorney as soon as possible after an injury to protect your rights. Each case is unique, so it’s best to consult an attorney as soon as possible.
How to Recover Compensation in Dram Shop Cases
In an alcohol-involved accident, the victim or the family can sue the bar, restaurant, or store that served the alcohol. In addition, the victim must prove both proximate cause and effect. The defendants must also prove that the alcohol was obtained improperly.
When this happens, proximate causation means a direct link between alcohol and the damage. Additionally, under the ARS criminal damage statute, a wrong-way driver who causes severe property damage can be charged.
The business institution that provided the alcohol is likely to have more assets and insurance coverage than the intoxicated driver. In a dram shop lawsuit, a victim or their family may be entitled to compensation for the following damages:
- Medical care now and in the future
- Income loss now and in the future
- Costs related to property damage
- Mental anguish, along with pain and suffering
- Scarring, disfigurement, or disability
- The cost of funerals or burials following a wrongful death
There is, however, an exemption in Arizona’s dram shop legislation. In an accident where the injured person knows the drunk driver was intoxicated and was there when he drank alcohol, the commercial establishment is not liable.
Our Sorenson attorneys can assist you if a loved one or someone you know has suffered injuries due to the actions of an impaired driver in Arizona. Using the Dram Shop laws in Arizona, our attorneys investigate all possible avenues of liability to get you well-deserved compensation. Contact us today.