Dramshop sign with bottles

Dramshop: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, and California

Way, way, way back in the day (18th century England) a dram was used as a unit of measure a bar or tavern used to sell alcohol. The measurement roughly estimates to be ¾ a teaspoon using the imperial measurement system. Any alcohol-selling business was therefore known as a dram shop.

Somewhere along the lines, the association became tied in with liability, laws, and acts. These laws established a certain level of liability when alcohol exchanged hands between an alcohol-selling establishment. Especially if that person was visibly intoxicated or a minor. 

Today these laws protect citizens and the community by reducing the number of drunk drivers and minor adults gaining access to alcohol. It’s not just in the United States. Countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia have acts and enforcement surrounding the topic.

However, in the United States, it’s up to the individual state to enact, enforce, and punish according to their laws. As of today, 43 states and the District of Columbia have some level of liability regarding dramshop in effect.

In this series, we’ll be discussing what is dramshop and what you need to know about the laws in your state.


Every wife, child, parent, or other person who shall be injured in person, property, or means of support by any intoxicated person or in consequence of the intoxication of any person shall have a right of action against any person who shall, by selling, giving, or otherwise disposing of to another, contrary to the provisions of law, any liquors or beverages, cause the intoxication of such person for all damages actually sustained, as well as exemplary damages.

Section 6-5-71

Alaska server pours a bourbon under the Alaska Dramshop laws

A person who provides alcoholic beverages to another person may not be held civilly liable for injuries resulting from the intoxication of that person unless the person who provides the alcoholic beverages holds a license or is an agent or employee of such a licensee.

  • the alcoholic beverages are provided to a person under the age of 21 years in violation unless the licensee, agent, or employee secures in good faith from the person a signed statement, liquor identification card, or driver's license meeting, that indicates that the person is 21 years of age or older,  or
  • the alcoholic beverages are provided to a drunken person.

Statue 04.21.020


A licensee is liable for property damage and personal injuries or is liable to a person who may bring an action for wrongful death pursuant to section 12-612, or both, if a court or jury finds all of the following:

  • 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. 
  • The purchaser consumed the spirituous liquor sold by the licensee.
  • The consumption of spirituous liquor was a proximate cause of injury, death, or property damage.

Statue 4-311

group of patrons drinking wine at a California restaurant Arkansas

Arkansas law prohibits an alcoholic beverage retailer from selling alcoholic beverages to a person who the retailer knows or reasonably should know is clearly intoxicated.

AMI 1902

Reduce liability and train with Serving Alcohol Arkansas Alcohol Seller Server Training 


Everyone is responsible, not only for the result of his or her willful acts but also for an injury occasioned to another by his or her want of ordinary care or skill in the management of his or her property or person, except so far as the latter has, willfully or by want of ordinary care, brought the injury upon himself or herself. The design, distribution, or marketing of firearms and ammunition is not exempt from the duty to use ordinary care and skill that is required by this section. The extent of liability in these cases is defined by the Title of Compensatory Relief.

Civil Code 1714

In California, as of July 2022, every person must be certified with a state-approved California alcohol certification
California RBS Training Certification