Dram Shop: Is a bar owner liable for drunk driving accidents?

What is a dram shop?

“Dram shop” is a term that originated in 18th century England. Nowadays, the term refers to any restaurant, bar, or tavern that serves liquor to patrons.

What are the dram shop laws in Arizona?

Before 1983, the rule in Arizona was that a bar owner couldn’t be held liable for injuries that third parties sustained off-premises as a result of the acts of an intoxicated bar patron, despite the tavern owner’s own negligence in serving that person as a contributing cause of the injuries. The Arizona Supreme Court righted this wrong in Ontiveros v. Borak. In Ontiveros, the Court held that a tavern owner is under a duty to exercise affirmative, reasonable care in serving alcohol to patrons who may later injure themselves or an innocent party, whether on or off the tavern premises.

A.R.S. § 4-311 states that a licensee will be liable for property damage and personal injuries if a court or jury finds (1) the licensee sold alcohol to someone who was obviously intoxicated or to someone under the legal drinking age without requesting ID, (2) the purchaser drank the alcohol sold by the licensee, and (3) the drinking of the alcohol was a proximate cause of the injury, death, or property damage.

Negligence requires an individual to prove 4 basic elements for a bar owner to be found liable:

(1) Duty

The party must show that the bar owner had a legal duty or obligation to conform to a certain standard of conduct

(2) Breach of Duty

The bar owner sold alcohol to someone who was obviously intoxicated or to someone under the legal drinking age without requesting ID

(3) Causation

Plaintiff must show that the bar owner’s act contributed to the final result, and that result would not have occurred but for the bar owner’s conduct.

(4) Damages

There was actual loss or damage either physically or to property.

However, a bar owner may be relieved of liability for an injury if there was a later, intervening event for which the owner isn’t responsible for that made a substantial contribution to the plaintiff’s injuries.

Those seeking recovery against a drunk driver may learn that the person’s auto insurance policy will result in a limited recovery. Arizona dram shop laws allow an injured party to recover against the establishment.

Dram shop liability is a complex area of law, so if you or a loved one has suffered injuries that are even partially due to the involvement of alcohol, contact an Arizona dram shop lawyer at Oracle Law Group Office. One of our experienced Phoenix personal injury attorneys will be able to assist you today. 480-704-0777