Arizona’s Dram Shop Act

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September 20, 2022

ARIZONA’S DRAM SHOP ACT – DID YOU KNOW … ?

Way back in the day, like the mid 20th century, the law in most states held that injuries or death caused by an intoxicated person was solely the responsibility of that person. You could not sue the person or business who sold him the alcohol. 

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The law considered the ‘bad’ conduct to be the drinking, not the selling. In time, that attitude began to change. 

As a society we decided that those who profit from the sale of alcohol should bear at least some responsibility for the cost, in terms of human life and property damage, caused by their intoxicated patrons.   

MOST STATES HAVE A DRAM SHOP LAW

 Today most states have some form of law imposing liability on sellers of alcohol to people injured by their intoxicated patrons. These were traditionally called “dram shop” laws. Arizona has such a law enabling people injured by a drunk driver may be able to sue not only the drunk driver but also the bar that sold him alcohol.

            Under the Arizona statute, A.R.S. § 4-311, a seller of alcohol is liable for property damage, personal injury or wrongful death if:

  • The seller sold alcohol to a purchaser who was either (a) obviously intoxicated or (b) underage without requesting identification or with knowledge that the person was underage; AND
  • The purchaser consumed the alcohol; AND
  • The consumption of the alcohol was the proximate cause of the injury, death or property damage.

The term “obviously intoxicated” under the statute means “inebriated to such an extent that a person’s physical faculties are substantially impaired and the impairment is shown by significantly uncoordinated physical dysfunction that would have been obvious to a reasonable person.”

LIMITATIONS

The law does impose certain limitations on liability of sellers of alcohol. First, the intoxicated purchaser cannot sue the seller, provided the purchaser was of legal age. Nor can others who consumed the alcohol he purchased. Also, anyone who was with the intoxicated person when he purchased the alcohol and knew of that person’s impaired condition cannot sue the seller. A.R.S. § 4-312.

 Except for the liability specifically imposed by the dram shop law, there is no liability under Arizona law for personal injury or death allegedly “caused in whole or in part by reason of the sale, furnishing or serving” of alcohol. A.R.S. § 4-312 B. In a previous Badger Blog post we discussed how Arizona law continues to shield from liability social hosts who serve alcohol to guests who are of legal age.

If you’ve been injured and need a lawyer who will fight for your rights, call Law Badgers at 1.833.383.4448 (833 DTF IGHT) or email us at info@lawbadgers.com. We’re here to help.

Learn more about our car accident practice here:

https://lawbadgers.com/phoenix-arizona-practice-areas/phoenix-arizona-car-accidents/

Learn more about our criminal law practice here:

https://lawbadgers.com/phoenix-arizona-practice-areas/criminal-law/

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