Dram Shop Law in Arizona

dram shop lawAs an adult, you’re responsible for your own actions. You know well enough that consuming alcohol and getting behind the wheel is a dangerous thing to do. You risk getting arrested on DUI charges and there could be much more serious consequences.

In some instances, however, you may think that somebody else is at least partially responsible for your actions.

Can you, for example, sue a bar in Arizona for overserving you and contributing to the DUI? Let’s find out.

What Is Social Host Responsibility and Does It Exist in Arizona?

As per Arizona law, a vendor of alcohol (whether a store or a bar) can be held accountable for selling to a minor or a clearly intoxicated person, whenever these individuals cause injuries or property damage.

Keep in mind, however, that people who provide social guests with alcoholic beverages cannot be held accountable for consequences. The absence of social responsibility is defined in Arizona Revised Statutes 4-301.

There is one more exception that applies to the so-called dram shop law (A.R.S. 4-311 and 4-312). If a person that serves injuries or property damage is present at the time someone was served alcohol while they were clearly intoxicated, the shop or bar cannot be held accountable.

Dram shop cases come with a statute of limitations. In Arizona, the statute of limitations is two years from the date on which the injury or property damage occurred.

Are Bars Responsible for DUIs Committed by Their Customers

The above-mentioned scenario pertains to civil lawsuits and it doesn’t apply to DUI criminal cases.

Let’s imagine the following scenario, however.

You go to a bar and you have a couple of drinks. You ask for more and the bartender continues to serve you, regardless of the fact that you’re clearly intoxicated already (slurred speech, slow reflexes, etc.). In a few hours, you get out of the bar, you start your car and you head home. This is when a police officer pulls you over and charges you with driving under the influence.

In this instance, can you sue the bar for serving you too much and contributing to the DUI?

Unfortunately, the answer is no. Dram shop laws focus on civil liability. If you consume too much alcohol and you hurt somebody else as a result, that person has the right to sue you and to also sue the bar that served you too much. Both of you are liable for the damages and you may be ordered to compensate the victim.

As far as driving under the influence is involved, you will be going through criminal proceedings that are focused on your actions and the fact that you broke state law by getting in the car to drive after drinking.

To sue a bar after you commit a DUI, you will have to prove many things. One of them is recklessness on behalf of the staff member that overserved you. Needless to say, finding the evidence to support such claims can be incredibly difficult.

Final Verdict

Dram shop laws in Arizona were created to protect people from injuries caused by drunk drivers. These laws do not address the liability for criminal cases like those involving DUI charges.

These laws are not created to benefit someone who has committed DUI. You cannot shift responsibility. After all, you have broken the law and you will have to face the consequences on your own.

Instead of looking for ways to shift the blame to someone else, hire a very experienced Arizona DUI lawyer. Your attorney will come up with a viable strategy that could be used to get the charges dismissed or to eventually diminish the scope of sanctions in the event of a conviction.

Click here to find out how long does it take to sober up before driving?