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Pennsylvania’s Dram Shop Laws Explained

Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers

Though most people probably have never heard of a dram shop, chances are most have been a patron of one. “Dram shop” is the legal term for any establishment that sells liquor by the glass, like bars and taverns. Only eight states do not have dram shop laws, or laws that hold drinking establishments liable for personal injury caused by a patron that the business owner served while knowing the patron was intoxicated or underage.

In Pennsylvania, bar owners may be held liable for the actions of patrons they serve who are “visibly intoxicated.” The Pennsylvania dram shop law also makes it illegal for bar owners to serve to minors, to people with a drinking habit or to people who have been declared insane by the courts. Under the law, bar owners are to use their good judgment to decide whether a patron is drunk or not before they serve him or her. This judgment should take into account any problematic behavior, including lack of coordination or slurred speech.

If the bar decides to serve a patron who is “visibly intoxicated,” he or she can be held liable for any personal injury caused by the intoxicated patron, including damages to the intoxicated patron. For example, if a bar knowingly serves a visibly intoxicated patron and that patron then instigates a fight with another individual, the business can likely be held liable for damages caused to the third party and the intoxicated patron.

Research compiled by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) provides evidence that dram laws reduce alcohol-related accidents and excessive consumption of alcohol, and increases ID checking at bars and taverns. Holding bar owners responsible for the actions of their drunken patrons has helped owners make smarter, healthier decisions aimed at curbing behaviors that would potentially put owners at odds with dram shop laws.

Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers:  Personalized and Responsive Legal Representation

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident or altercation caused by the serving of an intoxicated bar patron, please seek the advice of an experienced Philadelphia personal injury lawyer. Contact McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC today at 215-569-8488 or submit an online contact form. We serve clients throughout Pennsylvania including the Philadelphia regions, Chester County, Delaware County and Montgomery County as well as Delaware and New Jersey.