Last year, I blogged about whether a bar should be held accountable, along with the drunk driver, for causing serious injury or death of another (what lawyers like to call “dram shop liability”).  While there are folks who don’t believe a bar should ever be legally accountable for causing injuries to another, there are other situations where even the naysayers may consider a bar, in its quest to profit from the sale of alcohol, to be at least partially responsible along with a drunk patron who injures another.

In 2018, the carnage inflicted at the hands of drunk drivers here in Arizona was astronomical.  The numbers tell a chilling story:

  • 4,651 alcohol-related crashes
  • 242 of these crashes involved at least one fatality
  • 261 people were killed
  • 2,951 people were injured

Seventy-two percent of alcohol-related crashes happened at night, and most of these occurred on weekend nights.  Nearly 63 percent involved drunk drivers between the ages of 25-54, with over half of drunk drivers in the 25-34 age group.  The total economic loss in Arizona for 2018 due to alcohol-related crashes:  $3,144,914,151.  That’s “Billion” with a  capital “B”. 

Last year we settled a wrongful death case against two local bars, who collectively served enough alcohol to a woman such that her blood alcohol concentration was over three times the legal limit.  As she drove away from the second bar, she ran a red light and killed our client’s mother, who was turning on a green left turn arrow.  Neither bar monitored the woman’s alcohol consumption, intervened, or offered her a safe ride home.  But both bars profited over their service of alcohol to her.   The drunk driver was a young, master’s degreed special education teacher, and led a commendable life up to that fateful night.  She paid the price for her actions, as she was sentenced to eleven years in prison.  But the bars were not held accountable at all. . .until they found themselves as defendants in our client’s wrongful death lawsuit.

A drunk driver who causes a collision is of course responsible for the harm they cause.  But sometimes, bars and restaurants who profit from furnishing alcohol to the drunk driver may bear some responsibility as well.