Driving drunk can not only expose you to criminal charges but civil suits as well. Most people are aware that a person injured in an alcohol-related accident can sue the drunk driver in a civil action.
But did you know that victims of drunk driving accidents in Arizona can also sue the bar or restaurant that served the alcohol to the driver?
Many states, including Arizona, have “dram shop laws.” The laws allow a person who’s been injured or a family whose loved one has been killed in a DUI accident to sue any establishment with a liquor license for knowingly serving alcohol to the intoxicated person. A successful dram shop action will require the establishment and its owners to pay personal injury damages to the victim or the victim’s family.
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. The plaintiff must also show that the customer’s intoxication contributed to the accident.
Dram shop laws were enacted in order to provide owners of bars and restaurants with an incentive to protect the public from avoidable harm caused by intoxicated patrons. If you own an establishment that serves alcohol, you should stop serving patrons as soon as they begin to show obvious signs of drunkenness, including slurred speech, clumsy movements, or a belligerent attitude.
As the owner of a bar or restaurant, understanding Arizona’s dram shop laws will help you avoid contributing to a DUI accident. For everyone else, understanding the law will allow you to know your rights should you or a loved one ever become the victim in an alcohol-related accident.