Arizona’s Dram Shop Act

Badger Blog

September 20, 2022


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. 

The Jury Box
Jury Box

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.   


 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.”


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 We’re here to help.

Learn more about our car accident practice here:

Learn more about our criminal law practice here:

Related Articles

Badger Blog

Arizona Defamation Law

LIAR, LIAR, PANTS ON FIRE! - ARIZONA DEFAMATION LAWARIZONA DEFAMATION Gossip. We’ve probably all been guilty of it at some point. We’ve all known people who seem to gossip all the time. Some people make lucrative careers of peddling gossip. Part of us knows it’s wrong...

read more

Arizona’s Stupid Motorist Law

ARIZONA'S STUPID MOTORIST LAWArizona's Stupid Motorist Law Arizona is home to the so-called “stupid motorist” law, A.R.S. § 28-910. That statute provides that the driver of a vehicle on a public street or highway that is temporarily covered by water  and is barricaded...

read more


MY TIRE HAD A BLOWOUT! WHAT DO I DO? So you’re driving down the highway at 65-ish mph when one of your tires blows out. It’s an alarming experience even for the most experienced drivers. For inexperienced drivers, it can cause panic and losing control of the vehicle –...

read more
Share This