Smart & Aggressive
attorneys defending you.
click for a free consultation

Can You Sue a Bar if You Get a DUI?

Posted on March 30, 2022 in Car Accident,DUI,DUI defense

It is not uncommon for drivers who are accused of driving under the influence (DUI) to wonder about the responsibility of the people who served them alcohol or encouraged them to drink past their limit on the day of an arrest. This may include a bar in Arizona, such as if a bartender continued to serve you despite the fact that you were obviously intoxicated. While it is possible for an injured DUI car accident victim to hold a bar responsible for damages, in some circumstances, you generally cannot sue a bar for your DUI as the drunk driver in Arizona.

Dram Shop Laws Are for Crash Victims, Not Drunk Drivers

Most states, including Arizona, have laws in place that allow injured car accident victims to hold licensed alcohol vendors liable (financially responsible) for accidents caused by drunk drivers. These are known as dram shop laws. Dram shop laws permit DUI accident victims to file lawsuits against bars, restaurants and other establishments if they contributed to the drunk driving accident by overserving a patron or failing to check IDs.

In Arizona, a dram shop could be held responsible for a DUI accident if it continued to serve an obviously intoxicated person or served alcohol to a minor. It is important to realize, however, that this legal right is reserved for victims injured or affected by a drunk driving accident – not the intoxicated individual who caused the crash. It is not possible to sue a bar or another alcohol vendor for your DUI, even if a staff member overserved you. The bar will not be responsible for paying for your property damage, medical bills or any costs associated with a DUI conviction.

If the victim of a drunk driving accident that you caused does file a dram shop claim, this can divide fault for the accident between you as the intoxicated driver and the negligent alcohol vendor. If a bar is found guilty of overserving you, this can reduce the amount that you owe the victim in financial compensation for his or her losses. However, you cannot sue the bar for your own injuries or damages that you sustained in the crash.

DUI Defense Strategies

While you may be unable to sue a bar to recover the costs associated with your DUI, you could potentially avoid a conviction or reduce your penalties with a strong criminal defense strategy. A DUI defense lawyer can choose the best defense based on your situation. Your options may include:

  • Test errors. Many things can go wrong and cause inaccurate drug and alcohol test results. Your lawyer may be able to prove that a test was biased, faulty or inaccurate, or that it showed that you were intoxicated because of a health condition or another issue not related to drugs or alcohol.
  • Civil rights violations. If the arresting police officer made any mistakes, administrative errors or civil rights violations, this could be enough to have your DUI case thrown out. Examples include a lack of probable cause to pull you over, the failure to read your Miranda rights, and an illegal search and seizure.
  • Involuntary intoxication. In limited circumstances, you may be able to use the involuntary intoxication defense. If someone else forced drugs or alcohol upon you or tricked you into consuming them (e.g., if you were date-rape drugged or “roofied”), you may be able to use this as a defense against DUI charges. You may also be able to use this defense if a new medication that was prescribed by your doctor made you involuntarily intoxicated.

Getting a DUI conviction in Arizona can result in significant legal consequences. You may have to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars in fines and fees, for example, as well as spend one or more nights in jail. To discuss your options for DUI defense, contact Rosenstein Law Group to request a free consultation with a criminal defense attorney.

Contact Us


  • All fields required *
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.