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DUI Laws in Arizona: Everything You Need to Know

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How You Can Protect Yourself as a DUI Victim? Be Familiar with DUI Laws in Arizona

If you or someone you love has been involved in a DUI case, there are specific Arizona DUI Victim Rights you’re entitled to, be familiar with DUI laws in Arizona. If the victim survives the crash, they can be left facing obstacles and unforeseen challenges. The cost of me through a wrongful death lawsuit medical treatment and rehabilitation can take a toll physically, financially, and emotionally.

When individuals fall victims to a DUI-related crash, their families are left to grapple with the aftermath of this tragic event. The loss of a loved one in such a devastating manner raises questions as to why an innocent life was taken away. Surviving family members often endure emotional trauma and financial difficulties, among other challenges. DUI Laws in Arizona aim to address these circumstances and provide support for those affected by imposing legal consequences on intoxicated or impaired drivers.

If you or a loved one has been the victim of an Arizona DUI accident, it is important to understand DUI Laws in Arizona to know your rights, both in the justice system and through the civil courts. Knowing, understanding, and asserting your rights as a victim or surviving family member can be fundamental to the healing process.

The injury attorneys at Phoenix Accident and Injury Law Firm in Phoenix have significant experience in helping clients who have been victims of DUI accidents. If you need help undertanding DUI laws in Arizona and filing a claim for one of these awful, life-changing accidents, we are here to help you get the compensation you deserve. Our offices are conveniently located in ChandlerPeoria, and North Phoenix, and we can meet in person or over the phone or via video call.  You can contact us for a free consultation or read on to find out more.

In addition to addressing your legal concerns, we understand the importance of addressing other issues that may be impacting your well-being, such as securing a rental car promptly and connecting you with nearby healthcare professionals, including doctors or psychiatrists, to help restore stability in your life. We believe that a successful legal representation goes beyond the courtroom, ensuring your long-term well-being while seeking justice and compensation. With our knowledge of the local Phoenix courts and expertise in DUI Laws in Arizona, we are confident in our ability to secure the best possible settlement for you.

If you’re uncertain about your ability to afford legal representation for DUI cases in Arizona, don’t worry. Our payment is contingent upon your settlement, ensuring you only pay when your case is resolved. Our expertise lies in navigating the intricacies of DUI laws in Arizona, allowing us to provide effective and specialized legal assistance. Check out our Attorney Fees Calculator to find out more.

For More Information, Take a Look At These Articles: DUI Laws in Arizona

To help you find the information you need, we’ve compiled a list of some of our most frequently asked questions. Either click on the question to read the article or read on in this article to learn about DUI laws in Arizona.

What are my rights as a drunk driving victim when the at-fault driver goes to court? 

Can I get paid for the frustration and suffering that comes with being in a DUI accident? 

If I’ve been the victim of a drunk driving accident, will I have to go to civil court? 

What if the person who hit me has had more than one DUI? 

What happens if the person who hit me had an open beer in their car? 

How can I get paid by the bar who let the person who hit me drive? 

Why are DUI accidents the worst type of accidents to be in? 

Does a bar have liability in a case where they kept serving the at-fault driver?

How do I know I’m getting a fair settlement for my DUI case? 

What happens if the drunk driver leaves the scene of the accident without giving their contact information? 

What are peripheral injuries in a DUI accident and how can I prepare for them? 

What does it mean if I have a headache after my DUI accident? 

What are punitive damages, and what do they mean for my settlement? 

What is the BAC limit and laws in AZ? 

What are common defenses for DUI hit-and-run cases? 

What is a DUI?

The commonly used acronym DUI stands for driving under the influence based on DUI laws in Arizona. In Arizona it is against the law to commit an act constituting a DUI. According to Arizona Revised Statute § 28-1381:

A) It is unlawful for a person to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle in this state under any of the following circumstances:

  1. While under the influence of intoxicating liquor, any drug, a vapor releasing substance containing a toxic substance or any combination of liquor, drugs or vapor releasing substances if the person is impaired to the slightest degree.
  2. If the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more within two hours of driving or being in actual physical control of the vehicle and the alcohol concentration results from alcohol consumed either before or while driving or being in actual physical control of the vehicle.
  3. While there is any drug defined in section 13-3401 or its metabolite in the person’s body.
  4. If the vehicle is a commercial motor vehicle that requires a person to obtain a commercial driver license as defined in section 28-3001 and the person has an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or more.

B) It is not a defense to a charge of a violation of subsection A, paragraph 1 of this section that the person is or has been entitled to use the drug under the laws of this state.

C) A person who is convicted of a violation of this section is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor.

D) A person using a drug as prescribed by a medical practitioner who is licensed pursuant to title 32 and who is authorized to prescribe the drug is not guilty of violating subsection A, paragraph 3 of this section. (A.R.S. § 28-1381.)

It is important to note that according to the DUI Laws in Arizona, a DUI offense is not limited to the use of alcoholic beverages. It can also encompass the use of drugs or controlled substances that lead to hallucinations or impair a person’s cognitive and/or motor functions. While a driver under the influence can involve various substances that meet the criteria for DUI in Arizona, the most common factors in DUI-related accidents are drivers impaired by alcohol consumption and/or marijuana use within the scope of the DUI Laws in Arizona.

Driving under the influence in Arizona is crime in and of itself. When an intoxicated driver and people cause an accident are injured or killed, the severity of the charges increase, as do the potential punishments the perpetrator faces. Further, the DUI driver  may face civil liability to the victim, or their surviving beneficiaries. 

Who Can be the Victim of a DUI?

According to the Arizona Constitution, a victim, as defined in the context of the DUI Laws in Arizona, refers to a person who has been directly subjected to the offense. In cases where the person has been killed or incapacitated, their spouse, parent, child, or other lawful representative assumes the victim’s position, with the exception of individuals in custody for an offense or who are the accused. Therefore, individuals who have suffered harm as a result of another party driving under the influence are recognized as victims of a crime under the DUI Laws in Arizona.

Any person who sustains harm from an intoxicated or impaired individual while they are operating or in physical control of a motor vehicle can be considered a victim under the DUI Laws in Arizona. This category of individuals includes:

  • A passenger in the car of the intoxicated driver
  • Another driver and their passengers
  • Pedestrians
  • Cyclists

In the event that a victim dies as a result of the accident, then the deceased’s spouse, parent, child, or other authorized representative can step into the victim’s position and receive the same rights and benefits under the DUI Laws in Arizona as the deceased would have received if they had survived. This provision ensures that those affected by such tragedies in Arizona are adequately protected and supported by the legal framework of DUI Laws in Arizona.

Does the Victim of a DUI Have Legal Rights? 

Arizona DUI Victim’s have legal rights as guaranteed by Article II Section 2.1 of the Arizona Constitution. In addition, the Arizona legislature has codified crime victims’ rights in Arizona Revised Statute Title 13 Chapter 40.

As stated in the Arizona Constitution, a victim has the right:

  1. To be treated with fairness, respect, and dignity, and to be free from intimidation, harassment, or abuse, throughout the justice process.
  2. To be informed, upon request, when the accused or convicted person is released from custody or has escaped.
  3. To be present at and, upon request, to be informed of all proceedings where the defendant has the right to be present.
  4. To be heard at any proceeding involving a post-arrest release decision, a negotiated plea, and sentencing.
  5. To refuse an interview, deposition, or another discovery request by the defendant, the defendant’s attorney, or another person acting on behalf of the defendant.
  6. To confer with the prosecution after the crime against the victim has been charged, before trial or any case disposition, and to be informed of the disposition.
  7. To read pre-sentence reports relating to the crime against the victim when they are available to the defendant.
  8. To receive prompt restitution from the person or persons convicted of the conduct that caused the victim’s loss or injury.
  9. To be heard at any proceeding when any post-conviction release from confinement is being considered.
  10. To a speedy trial or disposition and prompt and final conclusion of the case after the conviction and sentence.
  11. To have all rules governing procedure and the admissibility of evidence in all proceedings protect victims’ rights and to have these rules be subject to amendment or repeal by the legislature to ensure the protection of these rights.
  12. To be informed of victims’ constitutional rights. (Arizona Constitution Article II Section 2.1(A).)

What Should I Do if I Was the Victim of a DUI? 

Being the victim of a DUI accident can be devastating physically, emotionally, and financially. As the victim of a DUI accident, you may wonder how to proceed to ensure that the intoxicated driver is held liable for their wrongful behavior and how you, or a loved one, can be properly compensated for the resulting harm, know DUI laws in Arizona. If you were the victim of a DUI accident, there are some steps you can take to help ensure your rights are not violated by studying DUI laws in Arizona.

Once you have received medical treatment for your injuries and are sufficiently recovered, it is crucial to promptly contact the police department in accordance with the DUI Laws in Arizona and obtain a copy of the accident report. This step enables you to thoroughly examine the details surrounding the incident and rectify any inaccuracies in the information. Possessing an accurate police report plays a vital role in establishing consistent and reliable factual evidence during a civil trial under the framework of DUI Laws in Arizona.

In addition, It is crucial that the victim keep accurate records of expenses incurred as a result of the accident. Expenses can include things such as:

Additionally, it is crucial to maintain documentation detailing the impact of the accident on your day-to-day life, including your ability to perform routine tasks, work responsibilities, and social interactions with peers, friends, and loved ones. This documentation is vital within the framework of the DUI Laws in Arizona, as it provides concrete evidence of the extent to which the accident has affected your life and can be instrumental in supporting your case.

During this challenging period, it is highly recommended to seek the guidance of an attorney who is knowledgeable about the DUI Laws in Arizona. An attorney can assist you in identifying viable legal claims against the intoxicated or impaired driver, ensuring your privacy is protected. Furthermore, an attorney can act as an intermediary, shielding you from potential harassment by the perpetrator. In some cases, perpetrators may countersue victims as a means of intimidation to discourage them from pursuing their civil claims. It is worth noting that one common legal claim used by perpetrators is slander or libel, but victims should be aware that truth serves as an absolute defense against such claims. By engaging an attorney familiar with the DUI Laws in Arizona, you can effectively navigate these complexities and protect your rights.

Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol

Driving under the influence occurs at alarming rate. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that in 2016, over 1 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. The CDC further found that approximately 111 million drivers admitted to episodes of driving under the influence of alcohol in 2016.

In its most recent reports, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that in the United States almost 30 people die each day as a result of drunk driving accidents, with driving while intoxicated was a factor in 29% of all fatal accidents. When broken down, that means a person is dying approximately every 38 minutes as a result of drunk driving accidents. When totaled for the year of 2017, 10,874 people died in drunk driving accidents. Further, an estimated 290,000 people are injured in accidents with intoxicated drivers each year. 

Unfortunately, driving under the influence occurs too commonly and can have grave consequences such as injuring or even killing innocent victims. The CDC estimates that alcohol involved accidents cost more than $44 billion per year.

Parties Who May Be Held Liable to the Victim of an Alcohol Induced DUI

Under the DUI Laws in Arizona, there are specific parties who can be held responsible for the victim’s damages in DUI cases. These parties include the individual who was operating or in control of the motor vehicle at the time of the incident. Moreover, Arizona’s Dram Shop Laws, as outlined in the DUI Laws in Arizona, impose liability on licensees who serve or sell alcohol to someone who is visibly intoxicated or a minor, as well as on social hosts who provide alcohol to minors. (Arizona Revised Statute § 4-311). These provisions within the DUI Laws in Arizona ensure that accountability is appropriately assigned to all relevant parties involved in the incident.

Evolution of Common Law Recognition of Dram Shop Laws

Arguably, it had been the policy and law in Arizona that a person or business that had sold or furnished alcohol to a person who later caused a car accident was not civilly liable for any resulting harm that occurred as a result of the intoxicated person’s behavior. (See, Estate of Hernandez by Hernandez-Wheeler for and on Behalf of Hernandez v. Arizona Bd. of Regents, 866 P.2d 1330, 177 Ariz. 244 (Ariz., 1994), See, e.g., Lewis v. Wolf, 122 Ariz. 567, (1979); Profitt v. Canez, 118 Ariz. 235,(1978).)

However, that changed after the 1983 case of Ontiveros v. Borak when the Supreme Court of Arizona held that a tavern owner could be held liable to third parties who were injured by an intoxicated patron. (Ontiveros v. Borak, 136 Ariz. 500, 667 P.2d 200 (1983).) In Ontiveros, the court noted that it is almost always foreseeable that drinking and driving can lead to a car accident, stating “certainly no court can say as a matter of law that there can never be a causal relation between serving liquor to an underaged, incompetent or already intoxicated patron and the subsequent accident in which that patron becomes involved when he or she leaves the premises.(Id.)

While the court acknowledged that “the general rule [in Arizona] is that a defendant may be held liable if his conduct contributed to the result and if that result would not have occurred “but for” defendant’s conduct”, it went on to say that [t]here are some dram shop cases where it would be possible to say as a matter of law that the defendant’s acts did not contribute to the result, and there are other cases,[], where cause-in-fact remains a question for the jury.” (Id.) Ultimately, it would be a question for the jury to decide who should be held liable in such cases. The Arizona Supreme Court therefore concluded that other parties “may be held liable when they sell liquor to an intoxicated patron or customer under circumstances where the licensee or his employees know or should know that such conduct creates an unreasonable risk of harm to others who may be injured either on or off the premises.” (Ontiveros v. Borak, 136 Ariz. 500, 667 P.2d 200 (1983).) Thus opening the door for third party liability. 

This decision overturned the 1945 year old holding in Collier v. Stamatis, where the court affirmed the lower court’s decisions dismissing a case for failure to state a cause of action when a tavern sold intoxicating drinks to a minor who was later arrested and deemed a juvenile delinquent. It was held that the tavern was not responsible for the subsequent illegal acts of its patrons. (Collier v. Stamatis, 162 P.2d 125 (Ariz.1945).)

Dram Shop Laws Codified

In addition to the Arizona Supreme Court recognizing dram shop laws, the Arizona legislature adopted Arizona Revised Statute § 4-301 in 1985. This statute, in conjunction with the recognition of dram shop laws by the Arizona Supreme Court, further solidifies the legal framework established by the DUI Laws in Arizona regarding the obligations and potential liability of social hosts when it comes to alcohol service.

Subsequently, in 1986, the Arizona legislature enacted two more statutes, Arizona Revised Statute Sections 4-311 and 4-312, which deal with the issue of a licensees’, or business’ responsibilities and liabilities in regards to serving intoxicated patrons and minors, and the limitations of such liabilities. These statutes taken together are what are commonly referred to as dram shop laws. Notably, A.R.S. Sections 4-301 and 4-312 serve to limit liability, while A.R.S. § 4-311 assigns liability and legal presumptions of fault.

Social Host Liability Limitation

Arizona Revised Statute § 4-301 reads:

A person other than a licensee or an employee of a licensee acting during the employee’s working hours or in connection with such employment is not liable in damages to any person who is injured, or to the survivors of any person killed, or for damage to property, which is alleged to have been caused in whole or in part by reason of the furnishing or serving of spirituous liquor to a person of the legal drinking age. (Arizona Revised Statutes § 4-301.)

Significantly, this statute refers only to social hosts’ liability limitations and does not apply to a licensee, or those in the business of serving, selling, or furnishing alcohol. This statute was enacted before the other Dram Shop laws were codified by the Arizona legislature in part to limit the Arizona Supreme Court’s ruling in Ontiveros, which, as noted above, was the first case to hold that a licensee could be held civilly liable for harm caused by an intoxicated patron it had served. This ruling was highlighted in cases such as Estate of Hernandez by Hernandez-Wheeler for and on Behalf of Hernandez v. Arizona Bd. of Regents, 866 P.2d 1330, 177 Ariz. 244 (Ariz., 1994).), emphasizing the significance of the DUI Laws in Arizona.

Of additional consequence, is that A.R.S. § 4-301 only applies to limit the liability of non-licensee social hosts when they serve or furnish alcoholic beverages to a “person of legal drinking age.” The statute does not apply to protect from civil liability social hosts who serve minors and does not protect establishments who may have not served minors but who were negligent in their storage of alcohol to prevent minors from acquiring it. (See, e.g. Estate of Hernandez by Hernandez-Wheeler for and on Behalf of Hernandez v. Arizona Bd. of Regents, 866 P.2d 1330, 177 Ariz. 244 (Ariz., 1994); Petolicchio v. Santa Cruz County Fair and Rodeo Ass’n, Inc., 866 P.2d 1342, 177 Ariz. 256 (Ariz., 1994); Young Through Young v. DFW Corp., 908 P.2d 1, 184 Ariz. 187 (Ariz. App., 1995).)

Arizona Revised Statute 4-301 Challenged

Arizona Revised Statute § 4-301 was challenged in  Estate of Hernandez by Hernandez-Wheeler for and on Behalf of Hernandez v. Arizona Bd. of Regent, when the defendants claimed that A.R.S.§ 4-301 was implicitly repealed by the subsequent passage of A.R.S. §§ 4-311 and 4-312. 

The defendants argued that A.R.S. § 4-312 also limits civil liability for third parties who supplied alcohol to an individual who was later involved in a car crash, and that as a result A.R.S. § 4-312 is in conflict with A.R.S. § 4-301. Defendants therefore claimed that for the court to entertain a case based on a violation of A.R.S § 3-401 they would be usurping the legislature’s function. (Id.) However the court did not agree, noting that absent an express repeal of a statute, courts favor finding union between laws, stating, “whenever possible, this court interprets two apparently conflicting statutes in a way that harmonizes them and gives rational meaning to both. [] We can do so here with a construction that both fulfills legislative intent and furthers legislative goals.” (Id.)

The court found that the legislative scheme of the statutes, the plain language of the statues, and the legislative intent all favored finding the statues as complimenting each other. Of further significance is that the plain language of A.R.S. § 4-301 applies to limit civil liability only for social hosts. The court stated, “The statutory immunity granted by § 4-301 applies only when a non-licensee furnishes alcohol to “a person of legal drinking age” and in the case of Estate of Hernandez the defendants were social hosts who furnished alcohol to a minor (Id.) 

Thus clarifying the differences and applications for the statues limiting civil liability for third parties furnishing alcohol to an individual who later causes an accident and harm due to driving while intoxicated, such that A.R.S. § 4-301 serves to limit civil liability to social hosts, and not to licensees, and only in instances where the intoxicated driver is an adult, not a minor.

Liability for Serving an Intoxicated Person or Minor

Arizona Revised Statute § 4-311 outlines the circumstances under which a licensee can be held accountable to the victim of a DUI accident for property damage and personal injuries. Additionally, under DUI Laws in Arizona, if the victim dies as a result of the accident, the statute specifies the licensee’s liability to a person who can initiate a wrongful death action pursuant to Arizona Revised Statute § 12-612.

A.R.S. 4-311 states that a licensee may be held civilly liable if the court or jury finds:

  1. The licensee sold spirituous liquor either to a purchaser who was obviously intoxicated, or to a purchaser under the legal drinking age without requesting identification containing proof of age or with knowledge that the person was under the legal drinking age.
  2. The purchaser consumed the spirituous liquor sold by the licensee. 
  3. The consumption of spirituous liquor was a proximate cause of the injury, death or property damage. (Arizona Revised Statute § 4-311.)

Under the DUI Laws in Arizona, this statute specifically addresses the civil liability for damages caused by an intoxicated driver in an accident. It is crucial to emphasize that the mentioned statute under the DUI Laws in Arizona imposes restrictions since it exclusively pertains to licensees. In the context of Arizona, licensees are defined as establishments holding a valid license to sell, distribute, or provide alcohol in various capacities.

Of additional consequence is that this law also contains some limitations to protect licensees, saying in relevant part that “[n]o licensee is chargeable with knowledge of previous acts by which a person becomes intoxicated at other locations unknown to the licensee unless the person was obviously intoxicated.” (A.R.S. § 4-311(B).) A.R.S. defines “obviously intoxicated” in subsection D. “’[O]obviously intoxicated’ means 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.” (A.R.S. § 4-311(D).)  

In addition to placing some limitations on the situations in which a licensee may be held accountable for an intoxicated customers subsequent actions, A.R.S.§ 4-311 within the DUI Laws in Arizona also makes some assumptions that disfavor the licensee. In relevant part it states that “if it is found that an underage person purchased spirituous liquor from a licensee and such underage person incurs or causes injuries or property damage as a result of the consumption of spirituous liquor within a reasonable period of time following the sale of the spirituous liquor, it shall create a rebuttable presumption that the underage person consumed the spirituous liquor sold to such person by the licensee.” (A.R.S. § 4-311(C).)

In DUI cases governed by the DUI Laws in Arizona, the burden of proof is generally on the party filing the claim to prove that all elements of the claim have been met. Thus, A.R.S. § 4-311(C) is important because it shifts the burden of proof to the licensee to disprove that their act of selling intoxicating beverages to an underage person was a cause in any subsequent incident that caused harm to another.

Licensee Liability Limitations

Arizona Revised Statute § 4-312, places limitations on a licensee’s civil liability to victims harmed by an intoxicated driver. It states:

  1. A licensee is not liable in damages to any consumer or purchaser of spirituous liquor over the legal drinking age who is injured or whose property is damaged, or to survivors of such a person, if the injury or damage is alleged to have been caused in whole or in part by reason of the sale, furnishing or serving of spirituous liquor to that person. A licensee is not liable in damages to any other adult person who is injured or whose property is damaged, or to the survivors of such a person, who was present with the person who consumed the spirituous liquor at the time the spirituous liquor was consumed and who knew of the impaired condition of the person, if the injury or damage is alleged to have been caused in whole or in part by reason of the sale, furnishing or serving of spirituous liquor.
  2. Subject to the provisions of subsection A of this section and except as provided in section 4-311, a person, firm, corporation or licensee is not liable in damages to any person who is injured, or to the survivors of any person killed, or for damage to property which is alleged to have been caused in whole or in part by reason of the sale, furnishing or serving of spirituous liquor. (Arizona Revised Statute § 4-312.)

Subsection A is important because it limits who can be a victim of DUI accident, to those who were not “present with the person who consumed the spirituous liquor at the time the spirituous liquor was consumed and who knew of the impaired condition of the person.” (A.R.S. § 4-312(A).) So if a passenger in the vehicle who consumed alcohol with the driver at a bar was later involved in a crash, the passenger’s recourse would be against the driver as they cannot hold the licensee accountable by statute. Although, they could arguably have a common law negligence case against the licensee.

In addition, subsection B extends non-liability to person’s working for, or agents of the licensee who provided the intoxicated individual with alcohol.

Arizona Revised Statute 4-312 Challenged

Arizona Revised Statute § 4-312(B) was challenged in the 1995 case of Young Through Young v. DFW Corp. and was held unconstitutional. (Young Through Young v. DFW Corp., 908 P.2d 1, 184 Ariz. 187 (Ariz. App.,1995).)

The issue in Young Through Young, was whether, contrary to the Arizona Constitution, A.R.S. § 4-312(B) abrogated a victims right to recover damages from a licensee because it limited legal actions to those listed in A.R.S. § 4-311, which required that in order for a licensee to be held liable for damages resulting from over-serving an intoxicated patron, the patron must have been “obviously intoxicated.” 

The victim argued that a patron could go to a bar, drink a lot in a short period of time and leave before exhibiting signs of intoxication or impairment, thereby alleviating licensee liability. Another scenario could be like that in Young Through Young were a licensee or its employees could not discern whether a patron was obviously intoxicated because they had no context by which to judge the patrons behavior in so far as they might not have had an opportunity to witness the patron sober, but should have had a reasonable idea that someone had been served enough alcohol to impair their judgment when they drank a lot in a short period of time.

In Young Through Young, the court found that the language of A.R.S. § 4-312(B) did in fact abrogate a DUI victims rights, thereby violating Article 18, section 6 of the Arizona Constitution which states that “[t]he right of action to recover damages for injuries shall never be abrogated, and the amount recovered shall not be subject to any statutory limitation.” (Article 18, section 6 of the Arizona Constitution.)

The Young Through Young court notes that in Barrio v. San Manuel Div. Hosp. the Arizona Supreme Court “adopted a test of “reasonable alternatives” for distinguishing between legislative regulation and abrogation. The legislature may regulate the cause of action for negligence so long as it leaves a claimant reasonable alternatives or choices which will enable him or her to bring the action. It may not, under the guise of “regulation,” so affect the fundamental right to sue for damages as to effectively deprive the claimant of the ability to bring the action. (Barrio v. San Manuel Div. Hosp., 143 Ariz. 101, (1984).

The Young Through Young Court, stated:

[T]hat section 4-312(B) fails to afford plaintiffs such as Young a reasonable alternative to the general negligence action recognized in Ontiveros when they are injured by a driver that the licensee knows or should know is intoxicated, but the driver is not “obviously intoxicated” as defined by section 4-311(C). By limiting licensee liability to section 4-311, section 4-312(B) does not merely “regulat[e] the mode, method, and procedure to be followed in pursuing the cause of action … [but] completely deprive[s] many who have sustained real injury of judicial remedy,” (Boswell, 152 Ariz. at 19, 730 P.2d at 196), and imposes the type of “insurmountable defense” constructed by legislative act that our supreme court condemned in Barrio. (143 Ariz. at 106, 692 P.2d at 285).

The court therefore held that section 4-312(B) was unconstitutional because it abrogates the general negligence cause of action recognized in Ontiveros. The court did note that the holding did not include a finding holding that either section 4-311 or its definition of “obviously intoxicated” in subsection C were unconstitutional as neither party raised it as an issue. (Young Through Young v. DFW Corp., 908 P.2d 1, 184 Ariz. 187 (Ariz. App., 1995).)

Notes on Common Law and Statutory Dram Shop Civil Liability Limitations

While A.R.S. §§ 4-301 and 4-312 serve to limit the civil liability of certain parties who furnish or sell alcohol to certain statutorily named and defined individuals, a business may be held liable on other grounds than those outlined under the statutory scheme of the dram shop laws. 

In Petolicchio v. Santa Cruz County Fair the issue was whether a licensee was civilly responsible for the death of a minor who was killed in a drunk driving car accident when the driver had routinely stolen alcohol from the licensee and the licensee was on notice of the habitual thefts but did nothing to stop them and prevent the minor from accessing the liquor. (Petolicchio v. Santa Cruz County Fair, 866 P.2d 1342 (Ariz.1994).)

The defendant argued that it was not liable under A.R.S. § 4-311 because it did not actually sell alcohol to a minor. While the court determined that the defendant could not be held liable under A.R.S. § 4-311, because, as it stated:

For dram shop liability to exist under § 4-311, the licensee must sell alcohol to a purchaser who is either intoxicated or under the legal drinking age. Obviously, no such commercial sale occurred here. We do not now address how narrowly or broadly the term “sold” should be interpreted. Suffice it to say again that under any rational meaning of the term, the liquor here was not sold. Defendants were not acting as licensees in this transaction–even unlicensed persons may store alcohol. Moreover, [the deceased] certainly was no purchaser–he was alleged to be a thief. Thus, we conclude that A.R.S. § 4-311 does not apply. (Id.)

However, the court in Petolicchio did go on to find that the licensee could still be held civilly liable for the minors death under a common law legal theory of negligence as established in Ontiveros because the licensee was on notice of the thefts, aware that that the alcohol was being taken and consumed by minors, and had a duty to prevent foreseeable harm. (Ontiveros v. Borak, 136 Ariz. 500, 667 P.2d 200 (1983).)

Statute of Limitations For Dram Shop Liability as Defined By Statute Versus For Common Law Negligence

It is important to distinguish between the statute of limitations for civil liability in cases based on the common law theory of negligence and those involving the statutory scheme for dram shop liability as adopted by the Arizona legislature. Under the common law theory of dram shop liability, individuals have a two-year window from the time of injury to file their claim. On the other hand, individuals pursuing a cause of action under the statutory scheme for dram shop liability must file their claim within one year. These differing time limits underscore the nuances of DUI Laws in Arizona and the specific requirements for filing claims based on negligence and dram shop liability. (See, ANDREWS, EX REL. WOODARD v. Eddie’s Place, 16 P.3d 801, 199 Ariz. 240 (Ariz. App., 2000).)

In ANDREWS, EX REL. WOODARD a woman sued a tavern under A.R.S. § 4-311 and under a common law theory of negligence because the tavern continued to serve an intoxicated patron who later caused a car accident with the plaintiff, thereby injuring plaintiff and her daughter. The plaintiff filed her legal claim within two years of the accident. While the trial court dismissed the case because it said she did not file her statutory claim within the one year statute of limitations, the appellate court reversed the lower court’s decision to dismiss plaintiff’s claim because she had filed her claim, which it noted had common law elements, against the tavern within two years after the accident. 

This is a result of some statutory legal claims being held to a one year statute of limitation under Arizona Revised Statute § 12-541(5). However, this statute does not apply to common law liability based on negligence. As the court in ANDREWS, EX REL. WOODARD v. Eddie’s Place, stated “the one-year statute of limitations in § 12-541(5) does not apply. Section 12-541(5) does not “include or extend to actions arising under the common law” but applies only “where a liability would not exist but for a statute.” (Id.)

Dram Shop Liability at Casinos

Dram shop liability does not extend to Indian reservations or casinos on those reservations. In Filer v. Tohono O’Odham Nation Gaming, the Arizona Court of Appeals held that because Indian reservations are a sovereign nation, casinos on their land cannot be held liable for civil actions unless they expressly waive their sovereign immunity. (Filer v. Tohono O’Odham Nation Gaming, 129 P.3d 78 (Ariz. Ct. App. 2006).) This means that an individual who is injured as the result of an intoxicated driver who became intoxicated as a result of being served, or buying alcohol at a casino does not have recourse against the casino because they are operated by the Indian nation on whose land they sit. This immunity extends to employees of the casino who serve alcohol, as detailed in Filer. (Id.)

Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana

Driving under the influence of marijuana has become increasingly common and is recognized as a drug that qualifies for a DUI in Arizona. While some may be under the misconception that marijuana does not affect their driving ability, or in some cases, believe that marijuana use actually makes them a better driver, these misguided beliefs are false.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in 2016 drugs, both illegal and legal, other than alcohol, were a factor in 16% of all crashes for that year. Additionally, data for crashes in 2016 indicate that 38% of people involved in fatal accidents had marijuana in their system. While some of those 38% may have had additional drugs in their system and, or alcohol, research suggests that with increased marijuana use, accidents rates have increased. As wide array of studies have shown, this is in part due to the fact that marijuana decreases cognitive function and a driver’s ability to track lanes, impairs motor skills, reduce a drivers ability to multitask, slows reaction time, and decreases coordination. (See, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; National Institute on Drug Abuse.)

Recent research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute reveals that car crashes are up by as much as 6% in Colorado, Washington, Nevada, and Oregon after those states legalized recreational marijuana, compared with neighboring states that have not legalized marijuana for recreational purposes. Those involved in a car accident with a driver who was impaired by marijuana may have some recourse against the driver under Arizona DUI laws and legal claims based in negligence. (See, A.R.S.  § 28-1381.)

Effects of Holding a Valid Medical Marijuana Card on DUI Prosecution and Liability

The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA) was passed by voters in 2010 and was codified as A.R.S. Statute Sections 36-2801-36-2819. While the AMMA broadly immunizes medical marijuana users from prosecution while using the drug as detailed in the Act, in the 2015 case of Dobson v. McClennen the Supreme Court of Arizona held that the AMMA does not immunize from prosecution a driver charged with a DUI resulting from marijuana use under A.R.S. § 28-1381(A)(3), which states in relevant part that it is illegal for any person to operate or be in control of a motor vehicle “[w]hile there is any drug defined in section A.R.S.§ 13-3401 or its metabolite in the person’s body.” (Dobson v. McClennen, 238 Ariz. 389, 361 P.3d 374, (Ariz., 2015).) Marijuana is a drug defined in A.R.S. § 13-3401.

Nevertheless, the court acknowledged that the DUI Laws in Arizona, particularly the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act (AMMA), provide an affirmative defense for drivers charged with DUI involving marijuana. It is the drivers obligation to prove that the marijuana or its metabolite in their system was not enough to cause impairment, the Dobson court stated in relevant part:

A qualifying patient may be convicted of an (A)(3) violation if the state proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the patient, while driving or in control of a vehicle, had marijuana or its impairing metabolite in the patient’s body. The patient may establish an affirmative defense to such a charge by showing that his or her use was authorized by the AMMA—which is subject to the rebuttable presumption under § 36–2811(A)(2)—and that the marijuana or its metabolite was in a concentration insufficient to cause impairment. The patient bears the burden of proof on the latter point by a preponderance of the evidence, as with other affirmative defenses.” (Dobson v. McClennen, 238 Ariz. 389, 361 P.3d 374, (Ariz., 2015).)

It is important to note that the affirmative defense established in Dobson is only applicable to an A.R.S. § 28-1381(A)(3) charge and not an A.R.S. § 28-1381(A)(1) charge. (Dobson v. McClennen, 238 Ariz. 389, 361 P.3d 374, (Ariz., 2015).) Whether the driver was under the influence of marijuana such that they were “impaired to the slightest degree” will be a question for the jury.

Since this Supreme Court ruling the issue has come up in Arizona Appellate Courts again. One example, is the 2016 case of Ishak v. McClennen when the court of Appeals of Arizona, Division 1 remanded the case to the superior court because the lower court failed to allow the defendant to submit evidence of his AMMA card when he was charged with a A.R.S. § 28-1381(A)(3) violation. (Ishak v. McClennen, 241 Ariz. 364, 388 P.3d 1 (Ariz. App., 2016).)

It is important for the defendant to note that failure to assert an affirmative defense in the initial proceeding results in its waiver. This affirmative defense specifically applies to drivers in Arizona who possess a valid medical marijuana card, and it does not extend to drivers without a valid card, as per the DUI Laws in Arizona.

Determining Impairment While Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana

One challenge associated with the increased use of marijuana is determining its impact on accidents, particularly assessing impairment at the time of a crash. Unlike alcohol, which can be accurately measured in a person’s body at the time of an accident, there is a lack of reliable testing methods to determine marijuana’s role in driver impairment. Unlike alcohol, which is metabolized relatively quickly, marijuana can remain in a user’s system for weeks or even a month or longer after use. Consequently, in civil cases, the jury will ultimately decide whether the driver was impaired and committed a DUI or acted negligently, considering the complexities surrounding marijuana impairment testing in accordance with DUI Laws in Arizona.

Parties Who Can Be Held Liable for Causing a Marijuana-Induced DUI Accident

Under Arizona law, the parties who may be held liable for a DUI based on marijuana use can include the driver of a motor vehicle, if the marijuana was obtained illegally, then potentially the individual who sold or furnished the marijuana to the individual, and potentially a dispensary in certain situations. An individual who uses marijuana and causes an accident may be held liable under A.R.S. § 28-1381 (the DUI statute), and also under A.R.S. § 13-3405, which makes it illegal for a person to “knowingly possess or use marijuana.” 

While there are dram shop laws for alcohol, there are no such laws for marijuana yet. Although A.R.S. § 36-2806(G) states that “[a] nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary shall not permit any person to consume marijuana on the property of a nonprofit medical marijuana dispensary.” This arguably creates a duty for the dispensary that if breached could be actionable under a similar legal theory of negligence as that articulated in Ontiveros v. Borak. However, the case law and statutory law is still developing in this area. 

Although the laws pertaining to marijuana use and driving under the influence of marijuana are still developing, there are established DUI Laws in Arizona and pertinent case law that can hold an impaired driver responsible for their conduct. If an individual causes an accident and inflicts harm upon others while driving under the influence of marijuana, these laws can be invoked to hold them accountable for their actions.

What Are the Potential Penalties for Individuals Who Harms Others While Committing a DUI?

Under DUI laws in Arizona, when the perpetrator of a DUI is involved in an accident, they may be held accountable for proceedings outside of a civil case. Additionally, as discussed above, in certain situations, a social host or a licensee may be held liable to the victims of a DUI accident in a civil lawsuit and potentially face other proceedings.

As discussed below in the negligence per se section, if an individual operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs in violation of the DUI Laws in Arizona causes an accident, that conviction can serve as evidence in a civil negligence case. It can be used to establish certain essential elements of the claim. It is crucial to note that even if the impaired driver is acquitted of other related charges in the criminal proceedings, the victim still retains the right to pursue a civil lawsuit against the driver. This allows the victim to seek compensation for the damages they have suffered as a result of the accident.

Additional Proceedings in DUI Cases 

In a criminal proceeding under the DUI Laws in Arizona, the intoxicated driver will be subject to prosecution by a state-appointed attorney. The primary objective of the prosecution is to seek punishment for the perpetrator on behalf of the state and the community as a whole. By enforcing the DUI Laws in Arizona, the prosecution aims to address the perceived wrongdoing committed by the intoxicated driver and uphold the principles of justice within the state.

If convicted, the perpetrator may face fines and, or jail time. The degree to which the perpetrator is punished will depend on numerous factors that may include things such as:

  • Whether this was the defendant’s first DUI
  • Whether the defendant has any other criminal record
  • Whether the accident resulted in death
  • The age of the victims
  • How badly the accident victims were injured if they survived

In addition, a licensee who sells alcohol to a minor or anyone who furnishes alcohol to a person not of legal drinking age without their parent or guardians’ consent, except when the minor is employed to sell alcohol, is guilty of a misdemeanor. (A.R.S. § 4-244(9).)

Potential Charges 

The charges brought by the prosecuting attorney in a DUI case under DUI Laws in Arizona are discretionary and depend on various factors. These factors include the extent of injuries or fatalities suffered by the victims involved and the defendant’s prior convictions related to DUI offenses. If the victims of the DUI accident survive, the charges may be reduced and could include aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, which is classified as a class 3 dangerous felony under DUI Laws in Arizona. However, if a victim dies as a result of the accident, the prosecutor may elevate the charges to manslaughter, which is considered a class 2 dangerous felony under DUI Laws in Arizona. The specific charges brought against the intoxicated or impaired driver will be determined based on the circumstances of the case and in accordance with DUI Laws in Arizona.

It is important to note under DUI Laws in Arizona that the defendant in a DUI case can face multiple criminal charges for each victim they harm. For instance, if the defendant causes an accident resulting in injuries to two individuals and the death of another, separate charges will be filed for each victim. In this scenario, the defendant may be charged with two counts of aggravated assault, reflecting the injuries caused to the two surviving victims, and one count of manslaughter for the victim who lost their life. Consequently, the defendant will face distinct penalties for each conviction, with sentences typically served consecutively, which may include jail time, as per DUI Laws in Arizona.

Penalties For the Driver Convicted in a DUI Accident

As discussed above, under the DUI Laws in Arizona, an intoxicated driver can face various criminal charges depending on the severity of the accident and whether it resulted in any fatalities. In cases where an individual is injured as a result of the accident, the intoxicated or impaired driver may be charged with a class 2 or class 3 dangerous felony. These charges reflect the seriousness of the offense and are in accordance with the DUI Laws in Arizona. By imposing such charges, the legal system aims to hold accountable those who engage in impaired driving and cause harm to others on Arizona’s roads.

DUI Laws in Ariozona state that dangerous felonies carry minimum jail sentences that may be increased depending upon the case’s specific facts, whether the convicted defendant has any prior convictions, and what those prior convictions were. The sentencing guidelines are statutory and leave little room for interpretation or deviation by the sentencing judge. Felony sentencing guidelines are outlined in Arizona Revised Statute § 13-704. Each felony class carries a minimum, presumptive, and maximum jail time.

A class 3 felony (aggravated assault with a deadly weapon) carries a minimum jail sentence of 5 years, a presumptive sentence of 7.5 years, and a maximum sentence of 15 years.

A class 2 felony (manslaughter) has a minimum jail sentence of 7 years, a presumptive sentence of 10.5 years, and a maximum sentence of 21 years.

The DUI Laws in Arizona impose escalating penalties for individuals with prior convictions. If a person is convicted of a class 3 felony and has at least one prior dangerous offense conviction, their sentencing range automatically increases to 10 to 20 years. Similarly, someone previously convicted of a dangerous offense, now facing a class 2 felony conviction, may face a sentencing range of 14 to 28 years. Each additional prior conviction further increases the potential jail time, and in certain cases, a life sentence may be imposed. (See Arizona Revised Statute § 13-704.)

In combination with the previous convictions, if the victim was a minor, then in some instances, jail time can be increased as well. (See, A.R.S. § 13-706.)

Civil Proceedings

Apart from criminal charges and penalties, an intoxicated or impaired driver can also be subject to a civil lawsuit filed by the victim of the DUI or, in case of the victim’s death resulting from the accident, by their surviving beneficiaries. Such legal action is in accordance with the provisions of DUI Laws in Arizona.

Under DUI Laws in Arizona, in the event of a DUI accident, the victim retains the right to initiate a civil lawsuit against the intoxicated driver to seek compensation for the harm they endured as a consequence of the accident. In cases where the victim does not survive the DUI accident, specific individuals who survive the victim have the ability to file a wrongful death action. This legal recourse is available in accordance with DUI Laws in Arizona.

While victims or their surviving family members have the option to represent themselves in a civil action against the perpetrator in accordance with DUI Laws in Arizona, it is advisable to engage the services of a private attorney due to the complexity of such lawsuits. This allows the victim or their family to focus on their healing process while ensuring fair compensation and protection from potential intimidation by opposing parties. Hiring a private attorney will provide valuable support and expertise throughout the legal proceedings in accordance with DUI Laws in Arizona.

Potential Civil Legal Claims

The DUI Laws in Arizona provide several avenues for civil law claims that can be pursued by surviving victims of DUI accidents against intoxicated or impaired drivers. These claims commonly include negligence and negligence per se. Furthermore, in cases where the DUI accident results in the victim’s death, certain eligible individuals may have the right to file a wrongful death claim against the impaired driver. To learn more about wrongful death lawsuits and their application within the context of the DUI Laws in Arizona, we recommend visiting the web pages dedicated to Wrongful Death.on the website of Phoenix Accident and Injury Law Firm.


In order to establish negligence under DUI Laws in Arizona, four elements must be met. First, it must be established that the defendant had a duty to adhere to a certain standard of care. Second, it must be shown that the defendant breached that standard of care. Third, a causal connection must be made between the defendant’s beach of the standard of care and the resulting injury. Fourth, the victim must have suffered actual damages. (See, Gipson v. Kasey, 214 Ariz. 141 (2007).) Whether a duty exists is a matter of law, while whether a breach of the duty occurred that caused injury and real damages are questions for the jury to decide. (Id.)

The question of duty is whether the relationship between the parties is such that the wrongdoer was under some obligation to the victim to use reasonable care to prevent or avoid harming the victim. (See, Petolicchio v. Santa Cruz County Fair and Rodeo Ass’n, Inc., 866 P.2d 1342, 177 Ariz. 256 (Ariz., 1994).)

Under the DUI Laws in Arizona, it is firmly established that individuals operating cars or motor vehicles have a legal obligation to operate their vehicles in a manner that prevents foreseeable harm to others. In the context of a DUI case, the jury will be tasked with determining whether the driver breached this duty of care, whether the breach contributed to the occurrence of the accident, at least in part, and the extent of the damages suffered by the victim. By applying the DUI Laws in Arizona, the jury ensures that the driver’s actions are evaluated based on their responsibility to prevent harm and that the victim’s damages are properly assessed in accordance with the law.

In cases where the jury determines that the intoxicated driver was negligent, resulting in an accident and harm to the victim, the jury will have the responsibility of determining the appropriate monetary compensation to award the victim. This compensation is intended to cover the damages suffered by the victim as a result of the incident. Under the DUI Laws in Arizona, the jury’s role is crucial in assessing the extent of the harm caused by the negligent driver and determining the fair amount of compensation that the victim should receive. By considering the provisions within the DUI Laws in Arizona, the jury ensures that the victim is adequately compensated for their losses and damages caused by the negligent actions of the intoxicated driver.

Negligence Per Se

Negligence per se, also known as statutory negligence, refers to a negligence claim that arises when the accused violates a statute, resulting in harm to the defendant. Under the DUI Laws in Arizona, when a statute is violated, the party asserting the claim of negligence is relieved of the burden of proving the existence of a duty. In such cases, the jury is tasked with determining whether the duty was breached, if the breach caused the damage, the extent of harm suffered by the victim, and the appropriate amount of monetary compensation owed to the victim. By considering the provisions within the DUI Laws in Arizona, the court can establish liability based on the violation of relevant statutes, allowing for a more efficient assessment of negligence claims.

In Estate of Hernandez v. Bd. of Regents , quoting the Law of Torts, the court stated that “a criminal statute may establish a tort duty if the statute is ‘designed to protect the class of persons, in which the plaintiff is included, against the risk of the type of harm which has in fact occurred as a result of its violation….’” (W. PAGE KEETON ET AL., PROSSER AND KEETON ON THE LAW OF TORTS § 36, at 229-30 (5th ed. 1984) in Estate of Hernandez v. Bd. of Regents, 866 P.2d 1330 (Ariz. 1994).)

For example, in Estate of Hernandez the court relied on Arizona Revised Statute 4-244(9), a criminal statute, to establish that a duty exists for both licensees and social host to refrain from furnishing alcohol to minors without their parent’s consent, stating, “we have previously relied on § 4-244 to sustain a cause of action against those who furnish alcohol to minors. We believe that A.R.S. § 4-244(9) … constitute[s] legislative recognition of the foreseeable danger to both the patron and third parties, and an effort to meet that danger by enactment of laws designed to regulate the industry, to protect third persons, and to protect those who are underage from themselves.” (Id.)

In addition to A.R.S. § 4-244(9) imposing an actionable statutory duty for the offense of serving alcohol to minors, A.R.S. § 4-244(14) imposes liability on licensee who serves alcohol to an obviously intoxicated person. Both of these statues, in addition to the dram shop statute can be used to build a civil case for negligence per se. (See, Ontiveros v. Borak, 136 Ariz. 500, 667 P.2d 200 (1983), relying in part on A.R.S. 4-244(14) to create a civil law cause of action in negligence for a victim who is injured in a car accident when an intoxicated patron drives.)

In a civil case under DUI Laws in Arizona, it is crucial for a party seeking to hold an intoxicated driver accountable to assert claims based on both negligence and negligence per se. This is necessary because these claims have different statutes of limitation under DUI Laws in Arizona. Furthermore, in certain situations, a licensee or social host may attempt to evade liability by exploiting a loophole in the dram shop statutes, where the statutes provide immunity to the defendant but common law recognizes a duty of reasonable care owed. Therefore, asserting claims of negligence and negligence per se under DUI Laws in Arizona helps ensure that all avenues for holding an intoxicated driver accountable are pursued effectively.

The Evolution of Common Law Joint and Several Liability into Several Liability

In certain situations involving the DUI Laws in Arizona, it is possible for multiple parties to be responsible for causing harm to a victim. In such instances, these parties can be held jointly and severally liable to the victim. This legal concept ensures that each negligent party can be held accountable for the full extent of the victim’s damages under the framework of DUI Laws in Arizona.

Under DUI Laws in Arizona, the common law rule of joint and several liability requires that the defendants must have “acted in concert” to cause harm to the victim or create the circumstances leading to the victim’s harm. If it is determined that the defendants acted independently, the victim is not eligible to receive compensation for the harm suffered from either defendant, despite their actions potentially causing harm. Additionally, an issue with the common law rule is that even if multiple defendants contributed to the victim’s harm, only one defendant may be held responsible for compensating the victim under DUI Laws in Arizona, and that defendant is not permitted to seek contribution from the other defendants, even if they share fault.

In 1984, the Arizona legislature alleviated some of the harshness of the common law rule by adopting Arizona Revised Statute § 12-2501, which allows for a co-defendant to seek contributions from other defendants “even though judgment has not been recovered against any or all of them” and allowed for the victim to recover even if there were multiple defendants who were necessarily acting in concert but whose independent acts each contributed to the victims’ harm. (A.R.S. § 12-2501.) As a result, it is possible for one defendant to provide compensation to the victim and then pursue reimbursement from the other defendants for their respective shares of the harm caused to the victim. This contribution can be sought within the same lawsuit initiated by the victim or through a separate legal action against the co-defendants, aiming to recover the excess amount paid beyond their own liability under DUI Laws in Arizona.

Thus, while Arizona Revised Statute § 12-2501 allowed for multiple defendants to be held liable to the victim thus easing some of the previous restrictions allowing for recovery under the common law rule, it did not account for allowing each defendant to be responsible only for their share of the damage. Consequently, a defendant who paid the full amount of damages to the victim might not have been able to seek reimbursement from insolvent co-defendants. Alternatively, suppose the paying defendant exhausted their financial resources in compensating the victim. In that case, they may have been unable to pursue legal action against the co-defendants to recover their funds under DUI Laws in Arizona.

As a result, again, in 1987 the Arizona legislature passed legislation changing the rules around joint and several liability, this time abolishing joint and several liability in most cases, but leaving several liability in tact as actionable law, and codifying comparative liability. (Arizona Revised Statute § 12-2506, and Arizona Revised Statute § 12-2505.) This legislation introduced the concept of comparative liability, allowing the victim to seek compensation from multiple defendants who may have all contributed to the harm suffered, even if they were not acting in concert. Additionally, it established that each defendant would be responsible for their respective share of the damages, thereby shifting the burden of pursuing each defendant for their portion of the harm to the victim under DUI Laws in Arizona.

In relevant part, A.R.S. § 12-2506 reads:

In cases involving personal injury, property damage, or wrongful death, the liability of each defendant under DUI Laws in Arizona is several, not joint, unless otherwise specified. Each defendant is responsible for paying damages in proportion to their assigned percentage of fault. A separate judgment is entered against each defendant, reflecting the specific amount of damages allocated to them. To determine the individual judgment for each defendant, the trier of fact multiplies the total recoverable damages by the defendant’s percentage of fault. This calculation establishes the maximum amount that can be recovered from that defendant under the applicable DUI Laws in Arizona.

The exceptions to the abolition of joint and several liability include when co-defendants were:

  • “Acting in concert”, ie, in conscious agreement, to bring about harm to the victim
  • One party was an agent or servant of the other
  • The party’s liability for the fault of another person arises out of a duty created by the federal employers’ liability act, 45 United States Code section 51.

A.R.S. § 12-2506 within the DUI Laws in Arizona further states that the jury shall be allowed to determine the percentage of fault of each defendant and may consider the fault of parties who may have contributed to harming the victim, but who may not have been a party in the current lawsuit.


A.R.S. § 12-2506 reads:

When determining the allocation of fault in a legal proceeding, the fact finder is required to consider the negligence or fault of all individuals who contributed to the alleged injury, death, or property damage, regardless of whether they were named as parties in the lawsuit. This principle applies in accordance with DUI Laws in Arizona. Even the negligence or fault of nonparties can be taken into account under certain circumstances. For instance, if the plaintiff reaches a settlement agreement with a nonparty or if the defendant provides notice before trial, as per the court’s established requirements, that a nonparty should be considered partially or wholly at fault. However, it is important to note that assigning fault to nonparties is solely meant to accurately determine the responsibility of the named parties involved. It does not impose liability on nonparties in this or any other legal action, and such assessments cannot be presented as evidence of liability in any subsequent legal proceedings.

For example, in Ogden v. JM Steel Erecting, Inc. when the jury found in favor of the plaintiffs, but assigned fault to the parties in the lawsuit, without assigning fault to non-parties, the case was remanded to the jury to assess the proper amount of fault to the non-parties, thereby reducing the fault of the named parties. (Ogden v. JM Steel Erecting, Inc., 31 P.3d 806, 201 Ariz. 32 (Ariz. App., 2001).)

Comparative Negligence

In DUI cases governed by DUI Laws in Arizona, the defendant can utilize the defense of comparative negligence to assert that the victim shares responsibility for the accident, thereby reducing the amount of fault attributed to them. This defense acknowledges that the victim was also at fault for the incident. Although comparative negligence can potentially impact the compensation amount awarded to the victim for the harm they suffered, it does not prevent the victim from seeking monetary compensation. If the jury determines that the victim bears some degree of blame for the accident, they can still recover financial restitution in accordance with DUI Laws in Arizona.

Comparative negligence is defined in Arizona Revised Statute § 12-2505, and states, based on DUI laws in Arizona:

  1. The defense of contributory negligence or of the assumption of risk is in all cases a question of fact and shall at all times be left to the jury. If the jury applies either defense, the claimant’s action is not barred, but the full damages shall be reduced in proportion to the relative degree of the claimant’s fault which is a proximate cause of the injury or death, if any. There is no right to comparative negligence in favor of any claimant who has intentionally, wilfully or wantonly caused or contributed to the injury or wrongful death.
  2. In this section, “claimant’s fault” includes the fault imputed or attributed to a claimant by operation of law, if any.

Importantly, under the DUI Laws in Arizona, the issue of comparative negligence is a matter for the jury to decide as a question of fact. It is the jury’s duty to assess whether the victim bears any responsibility or if the intoxicated or impaired driver is solely at fault for the accident. The determination of comparative negligence plays a significant role in evaluating liability and accountability within the legal framework of DUI Laws in Arizona.

Intervening Events That Decrease or Relieve a Licensee’s Liability To a DUI Victim

As discussed above, the parties who may held liable for the resulting damage to the victim in a DUI accident can include both the driver and a third party, such as a licensee or social host. However, in some situations where a superseding event occurs and intervenes to break the causal connection between the third parties actions and the accident, the third party defendant may be relieved of their liability based on DUI laws in Arizona.

Under DUI Laws in Arizona, the concept of causation in negligence comprises two components: actual cause and proximate cause. Actual cause exists when the defendant’s actions contribute to the final outcome of a situation that would not have occurred without the defendant’s actions. An act that satisfies the requirement of the actual cause may also fulfill the proximate cause element, except in cases where an intervening event supersedes the defendant’s actions, thereby relieving the defendant of liability in accordance with DUI Laws in Arizona.

According to DUI Laws in Arizona, an intervening event refers to a circumstance that contributes to the victim’s injuries but is not caused by the defendant’s actions. For the defendant’s liability to be superseded by an intervening event, it must be unforeseeable and extraordinary in nature. If the damages are a result of such a superseding, intervening event, the defendant cannot be held liable due to the absence of proximate cause, as outlined in DUI Laws in Arizona. This holds true even if the defendant’s actions may have played a role in contributing to the resulting harm. (See, Ontiveros v. Borak, 136 Ariz. 500, 667 P.2d 200 (1983).)

In the case of Patterson v. Thunder Pass, Inc.,an incident occurred where a woman became intoxicated at a bar. A bar employee, recognizing her intoxication, took her keys and drove her home. Upon arrival, the employee returned the keys to her. Unbeknownst to the bar employees, the woman returned to the bar 45 minutes later to retrieve her keys and proceeded to drive back home. While still intoxicated and driving in the wrong direction, she collided head-on with another vehicle, causing injury to the other driver. The court determined that the tavern was not liable to the victim under the DUI Laws in Arizona. This decision was based on the fact that the employees could not have anticipated the woman’s return to the bar that night to retrieve her car. Furthermore, the court emphasized that returning the keys to the woman did not establish liability, as the employees had no legal authority to retain the keys after safely getting her home. The woman’s return to the bar was deemed an unforeseeable intervening event that severed the causal connection between the bar and the subsequent accident. As a result, the case against the bar was dismissed. (Patterson v. Thunder Pass, Inc., 153 P.3d 1064, 214 Ariz. 435 (Ariz. App., 2007).under the DUI Laws in Arizona) As such, the case against the bar was dismissed. Leaving the victim with a cause of action against the driver only.

What Types of Compensation Can the DUI Victim Recover?

The surviving victim of a DUI accident may be able to recover compensation based on DUI laws in Arizona for things such as:

  • Medical bills
  • Future medical treatment
  • Pain and suffering
  • Lost wages
  • Damaged Property

In the event that the victim of a crash does not survive, specific family members known as statutory beneficiaries have the right to initiate a legal action against the impaired driver through a wrongful death lawsuit. Under DUI laws in Arizona, the deceased’s statutory beneficiaries may be eligible for various types of compensation. Types of compensation based on DUI laws in Arizona that may be available to the deceased’s statutory beneficiaries include:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Lost wages of the deceased
  • Pain and suffering
  • Medical expenses of the deceased

What Amount of Compensation Can Victims of a DUI Receive based on DUI Laws in Arizona?

The amount of compensation the victim of a DUI, or their surviving family, may recover will vary depending upon the circumstances of each case. Below of some examples of compensation in Arizona cases based on DUI laws in Arizona.

Gehres v. City of Phoenix

In the case of Gehres v. City of Phoenix, Violet Gehres, the victim of a DUI accident, tragically lost her life when her vehicle was struck by Lawrence Speck, the perpetrator who also died in the collision. At the time of the accident, Lawrence Speck had a blood alcohol level of .27%. Following the incident, the victim’s surviving daughter and husband filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the estate of Lawrence Speck, Vinnie’s (an establishment where Speck became intoxicated), and the City of Phoenix, whose police officers were in pursuit of Speck when the fatal crash occurred. Under DUI Laws in Arizona, the jury held all three defendants responsible and awarded the surviving husband and daughter a combined total of $577,600, adhering to the provisions of DUI Laws in Arizona.

Note that this case went to trial before joint and several liability was abolished so all defendants were technically responsible for paying the judgment. This was the issue on appeal, but the court upheld a verdict for the plaintiffs, since it could not apply the several liability law retroactively. (Gehres v. City of Phoenix, 156 Ariz. 484, 753 P.2d 174 (Ariz. App., 1987).)

Essson v. La Puesta Del Sol Party Facility and AYOUB (2004)

In the 2004 case of Essson v. La Puesta Del Sol Party Facility and AYOUB, the jury reached a verdict awarding the plaintiff a total of $2.6 million. Under the DUI Laws in Arizona, the jury held La Puesta liable for $2.1 million and Ayoub liable for $500,000. The victim in this case was a passenger of Ayoub, who was operating the vehicle while under the influence of alcohol consumed at an event hosted by La Puesta. Tragically, the victim lost their life in a car accident, leading the victim’s mother to file the lawsuit. As a result, the judgment was awarded to the victim’s mother in accordance with DUI Laws in Arizona.

Shalley v. A & M Beverages dba Mecca Lounge, McConaha, and Sainsevain (2004)

In the case of Shalley v. A & M Beverages, dba Mecca Lounge, McConaha, and Sainsevain, the plaintiff was involved in a collision while stationary at a red light, caused by defendant Sainsevain shortly after leaving Mecca Lounge. The plaintiff alleged that Mecca Lounge continued to serve alcohol to defendant Sainsevain despite her obvious intoxication, as evidenced by her blood alcohol level of .315 at the time of the accident. In accordance with DUI Laws in Arizona, the jury determined that Mecca Lounge was not liable, assigning 100% fault to defendant Sainsevain for the accident. As a result, the plaintiff was awarded a total of $400,000, comprising $200,000 in compensatory damages and $200,000 in punitive damages in compliance with DUI Laws in Arizona.

Contact an Arizona DUI Victims’ Lawyer

If you or someone you love has been injured, or worse killed, in an accident involving an intoxicated or impaired driver you are undoubtedly and understandably feeling a range of emotions while facing novel challenges. When presented with seemingly insurmountable difficulties, having an attorney who is expert with DUI laws in Arizona to represent you can make a significant difference. A lawyer will ensure that your rights are asserted and your interests are protected.

At Phoenix Accident and Injury Law Firm near you, we have more than 15 years of experience helping clients understand DUI laws in Arizona and obtain compensation for their personal injuries from DUI accidents in the Phoenix area, including those who need help understand their victim rights. When you’re ready to talk, please contact our office to arrange a free initial consultation by phone or at our Chandler office, conveniently located near you.

If you have been in a DUI accident and want to know about DUI laws in Arizona, contact Phoenix Accident and Injury Law Firm in nearby Chandler, AZ to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. We provide personal injury legal services to clients in your area including ChandlerGilbertMesaScottsdale, Tempe, and Peoria.

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Brenden Lewis
a month ago

So I suffered a tragic motorcycle accident leaving me injured and quite unhappy…… also the bike was totaled. This all star law team secured a large settlement for all my suffering. This process was very well advised by an aggressive and determined lawyer. All I can say is now I’m left a very happy man. Thank you karissa for working quick to bring my tragic story to a much warmer end. Just call them! You won’t regret it!

Shayianna Guyton
a month ago

They literally conversed with me every step of the way throughout my journey. Thank you guys

I was very pleased with my experience. They kept me informed the whole way through the process and checked on me through my treatment. Definitely would recommend

My dad was in a car accident and during those difficult moments, Phoenix Accident and Injury Law firm has been there for us. They care for their clients, will walk you through everything you need to know step by step, they follow up, very easy to reach and fast to respond. And one thing is for sure! they will fight for you! we felt safe with them! Me and the entire family thank them all so much for all their help! These people that works here are amazing!

Jenifer henke
a year ago

I was in an accident that resulted in getting whiplash and a concussion. I contacted Phoenix Accident and Injury Law Firm that day. Everyone was helpful (Rhea, Karissa, and Jeff) from the very beginning to the very end. They sent me to a physical therapy location that was pretty far away but the doctor and physical therapist were very kind so I did make the trek. They handled all aspects of my case in a timely manner and answered all my questions. They got the max amount possible, and from that, paid the medical bills and took their fair cut. I would not hesitate to recommend them to family or friends.

I would give ten stars if I could. This law firm is about as professional and friendly as it gets!! They stayed in constant contact with me and answered every question I had. I got a settlement that was higher than I expected and will definitely use this law firm again. I highly recommend hiring them to handle your legal issues!!

Fernando Lopez
a year ago

My experience with this team was superb, as they were ongoing with the case and making sure that the client gets what they deserve. I recommend anyone looking for a accident law group that this is the team you want to be representing you!!

Kimberly Legaspi
2 years ago

What can I say about the Thompson Law Firm? They are AMAZING!! It’s never fun when you need an accident lawyer because you are pretty much in a bad place. Shane and the staff have been wonderful, kept me informed at every step of this process. I would recommend Thompson Law Firm to anyone, in fact, I have referred several friends already!! Thank you Thompson Law Firm for everything you did for me!!!

Amanda Olney
2 years ago

These guys were absolutely amazing. They were very clear with me about what I needed to do on my end and I saw fast results. I just recommended them to a friend a week ago and he also dealt with my mother's case. I wouldn't see anyone else.

2 years ago

Karissa and Shane were amazing! They were there for any questions I had and checked up on me regularly. Highly recommend these guys!!

Karissa Murphy
2 years ago

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