Can Bars Be Held Liable for Drunk Drivers in Arizona?

Lerner and Rowe Injury Attorneys
dram shop lawsuit

In 2019, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that 309 people in Arizona died in traffic accidents involving a driver who was under the influence of alcohol. When looking at this data, a pattern quickly emerges: the higher a driver’s reported blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the more likely they were to cause a fatal accident. For instance, drivers who had a BAC of 0.01 to 0.07 (below the legal limit) caused about 15.9% of impaired driving fatalities. Meanwhile, the remaining 84.1% of alcohol-involved traffic fatalities were caused by drivers with a BAC of 0.08 or higher.

When bars, restaurants, or social hosts over-serve someone, the risk of that person getting behind the wheel and causing an accident climbs exponentially. Although drunk drivers can—and should—be held responsible for causing an accident, those who knowingly over-serve someone may also share part of the blame. Drunk driving accident victims may even be eligible to collect compensation from negligent business owners through a dram shop lawsuit. Find out more about this legal option from the Arizona dram shop lawyers at Lerner and Rowe Injury Attorneys.

What Are Arizona’s Dram Shop Laws?

Arizona’s dram shop laws are spelled out clearly in the Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) § 4-311. The law states that licensees (that is, businesses who have a liquor license) may be held liable for property damage, personal injuries, or wrongful death if the following circumstances are met:

  1. The business knowingly sold alcohol to a patron who was obviously intoxicated* OR to a patron who was under the age of 21
  2. The patron drank the alcohol they purchased
  3. The consumption of alcohol sold by the business was a proximate cause of subsequent property damage, bodily injury, or death

The law also stipulates that a business is not liable for a person who became intoxicated at another location prior to being served at their establishment unless that person was obviously intoxicated.

*A.R.S. § 4-311 defines obviously intoxicated as “inebriated to such an extent that a person’s physical faculties are substantially impaired and the impairment is shown by significantly uncoordinated physical action or significant physical dysfunction that would have been obvious to a reasonable person”.

Million Dollar Results

Lerner and Rowe Injury Attorneys recovered over $1,000,000 from a bar in a dram shop lawsuit for over-serving an individual who subsequently hit and caused injuries to our client.

Can Social Hosts Be Responsible for Drunk Drivers?

Bars and restaurants aren’t the only entities that can be held liable for a drunk driving accident, but suing someone who is not a business owner is only allowed under specific circumstances. This is referred to as social host liability.

A social host is someone who does not have a liquor license but who provides alcohol to guests, such as a neighbor or friend hosting a party at a private residence. In general, social hosts are protected from personal injury lawsuits related to a drunken guest who goes on to cause an accident or injure someone. 

That being said, there is one important exception: if a social host provides alcohol to a person under the age of 21, they may be held liable for damages stemming from injuries, property damage, or death caused by that person. A social host doesn’t have to intentionally serve alcohol to an underage person to be held responsible, either—simply failing to keep alcohol from a minor may warrant civil action if the minor consumes the alcohol and then causes a car accident.

How Long Do Accident Victims Have to File a Dram Shop Lawsuit?

If you or your loved one was injured in a car, truck, motorcycle, pedestrian, or bicycle accident that was caused by a drunk driver, it’s crucial that you understand your legal rights to compensation—both from the driver or their insurance company and the bar, restaurant, or social host who may have served them prior to the accident. Should you decide to pursue a personal injury claim against these parties, the statute of limitations to file your claim is just two years from the date of the injury or death.

dram shop lawsuit

While this may seem like plenty of time to handle your case, issues like lengthy hospital stays and rehabilitation, end of life care and funeral arrangements, or a lack of readily available evidence can make filing your claim on time more difficult. To ensure that you get the highest amount of compensation possible for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, and other damages, it is recommended to consult with an experienced Arizona personal injury attorney as soon as possible after a drunk driving accident.

How Lerner and Rowe Injury Attorneys Can Help

Under Arizona dram shop laws, bars who over-serve an obviously intoxicated patron who then goes on to injure another person are guilty of negligence and may owe an injured party significant compensation for their losses. The same goes for social hosts who furnish alcohol to a minor. But in order to collect the maximum settlement for your injuries or the death of your loved one, you’ll need an abundance of evidence to prove your case.

At Lerner and Rowe Injury Attorneys, we have helped countless people just like you get the compensation they deserved after an accident. Our attorneys have successfully settled dram shop lawsuits both in and out of court, allowing victims and their families to move forward with their lives and providing financial security for the years to come. 

Claim Your Free Dram Shop Lawsuit Consultation

To claim your free, no obligation consultation with our experienced legal team, call us 24/7 at 602-977-1900 in Phoenix or at 520-977-1900 in Tucson. You can also get in touch with a representative online using our LiveChat service or by filling out this form.

Should you decide to pursue a claim with us, know that Lerner and Rowe Injury Attorneys charges no fees until we’ve made a financial recovery on your behalf. In addition to providing top-notch legal services, our compassionate and award-winning legal team is committed to helping victims and their families carry the emotional burden of an injury or loss so that they can focus on recovery and healing.

The information on this blog is for general information purposes only. Nothing herein should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.