dram shop laws in Arizona

A dram shop is a bar or restaurant that serves alcohol; the term remains from the time when bars sold alcohol by the dram, a unit of measurement. Arizona is one of the states with dram shop laws, which state that, if a person causes an accident while under the influence of alcohol, a person injured in the accident can name the establishment that sold the alcohol as a defendant in a personal injury lawsuit. Of course, not all alcohol-related accidents involve dram shop liability; the best person to determine whether you have grounds for a dram shop liability case against a drinking establishment is an experienced personal injury lawyer.


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When is the Bar or Restaurant Liable?

Most alcohol-related accidents happen through no fault of the bar where the person who caused the accident got drunk. For there to be grounds for a dram shop liability case, the following conditions must be met:

  • The person must have been noticeably intoxicated, enough that the bartender or restaurant server would have known that the person was drunk.
  • The person must have consumed the alcohol before the accident.
  • Getting drunk at the bar must have been the proximate cause for the accident.


Probably Dram Shop Liability

Joe has several drinks at the Tipsy Roadrunner Tavern.  The bartender does not know whether Joe had consumed any alcohol that day before arriving at the tavern, but after three drinks at the Tipsy Roadrunner, he is visibly drunk. He is unsteady on his feet, and his speech is slurred. The bartender serves him two more drinks before he leaves. Joe drives home, and on the way, he gets into a car accident. The driver of the other car, who was injured in the accident, probably has a case against the Tipsy Roadrunner Tavern as well as against Joe.

Probably Not Dram Shop Liability

By the time Joe leaves the Tipsy Roadrunner Tavern, he is visibly drunk. When the tavern closes at 11:00 p.m., he drives home to the house he shares with several housemates. At 1:00 a.m., Joe gets a craving for tacos and decides to drive to a restaurant that is still open. On the way, he gets into an accident and injures the other driver. In this case, the plaintiff probably does not have a case against the Tipsy Roadrunner Tavern. There is not enough evidence that the alcohol Joe drank at the tavern was the proximate cause of the accident. If his housemates were home and awake when he got home from the bar, they should have known that he was drunk and prevented him from driving. If they were not, the plaintiff cannot prove that Joe did not drink more after leaving the bar.

Contact Eric Schmidt About Dram Shop Liability Cases

Eric Schmidt is an Arizona lawyer who works on personal injury and wrongful death cases.  Contact Eric Schmidt in Phoenix, Arizona to see if you have grounds for a lawsuit.