Dram Shop Liability in Arkansas
What is a "dram shop" action?"Dram shop" or "dramshop" is basically a legal term for a bar, tavern or any entity that sells alcoholic beverages to the public. Approximately 38 states (including Arkansas) now recognize some form of civil liability against vendors of alcoholic beverages under certian circumstances. When an intoxicated customer causes damage (injures, kills or damages property) to themselves or someone else, the circumstances under which the alcohol came into their possession should be considered.
Arkansas dram shop liability.The Arkansas legislature has now codified (written into law) what constitutes the circumstances under which a person can seek and receive compensation from a vendor of alcohol.
(1) When a vendor illegally sells alcohol to a minor, and the intoxicated minor injures or kills themselves or someone else as a result, a cause of action exists against the seller (the victim or their family can sue the bar, restaurant or liquor store).
(2) When a vendor sells alcohol to an adult (a person of legal age to purchase the alcohol) after that person is visibly intoxicated, and that person thereafter injures, kills or causes property damage to another due to the intoxication, a cause of action exists against the vendor. An important distinction here is that, a sale to a person that can legally purchase the alcohol does not give rise to a cause of action when they injure or kill themselves due to their own intoxication...unlike in the instance of a minor to whom the sale was illegally made.
What about parties?Arkansas has drawn the line on social host liability. Other than those instances referenced above, the legislature has said that it is the "consumption" and not the sale of the alcohol that constitutes the proximate cause of whatever the drunk person does to themselves or someone else. In other words, adults providing alcohol to adults at social functions would not ordinarily expose the host to liability in Arkansas.