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BREAK THE LAW BY SERVING ALCOHOL? ARIZONA ‘DRAM SHOP’ LAWS

All vendors that serve alcohol have an obligation to do so in a responsible manner. Liability does not necessarily end when topping off a guest or patron’s cup with alcohol or closing out their tab. When a bartender, business employee or even a social host serves alcohol in excess to a patron who then causes a serious or fatal accident in Arizona they can later be held responsible.

Known as “Dram Shop” laws, an alcohol seller is essentially held accountable for injuries an intoxicated patron causes after consuming alcohol. The purpose behind Arizona’s Dram Shop Law is simple. The goal is to discourage a vendor from continuing to serve alcohol to a person that is clearly intoxicated and/or underage. Such laws vary greatly in scope depending on the state and create an actionable cause for a victim of a drinking-related accident against more than just the that person directly caused the injury. Since the bartender has the choice to stop or continue serving the patron, he or she should be held liable when they ignore the signs of heavy intoxication that later cause major death or injury to another.

Bars and restaurants can get very busy with customers, and it may be hard to keep track of every drink a person has consumed. The bottom line is that a state dram shop law recognizes that there are multiple factors at play in a drunk driving accident. Although the bulk of the liability typically rests on the intoxicated individual, victims of drinking-related offenses have more than one option of recovery in most cases. An Arizona injury lawyer can pursue a claim against the liability insurance policy of a bar or business owner in an effort to obtain maximum compensation for their injuries. In order to bring a dram shop claim, the plaintiff must show that the customer was visibly intoxicated to the extent that a reasonable person would be able to detect “significantly uncoordinated physical action or significant physical dysfunction” on the part of the customer.

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Alcock & Associates P.C.
2 North Central Avenue, 26th Floor
Phoenix AZ 85004