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What is the Pennsylvania dram shop law?


A: Learn more about the Pennsylvania dram shop law here. Under the Pennsylvania dram shop law, anyone who supplies alcohol to someone who is visibly intoxicated can be held accountable for damage that person may cause to a third party.

The Pennsylvania Liquor Code, Section 4.493(1) states it is unlawful to: 

... "permit any liquor or malt or brewed beverages to be sold, furnished or given, to any person visibly intoxicated, or to any minor.'' 

This law applies to individuals as well as businesses such as restaurants and bars that sell alcohol. Private events are also subject to Pennsylvania's dram shop law.

Recognizing Visible Signs of Intoxication

To avoid the penalties laid out for those who violate the Pennsylvania dram shop law, businesses should be able to identify signs of intoxication, which include:

  • slurred speech;
  • staggering, swaying or stumbling;
  • drowsiness;
  • inability to sit straight; and
  • glassy, bloodshot eyes. 

Upon recognizing these signs, the business should cease serving alcohol to the affected individual.

The dram shop law also comes into play when other violations have been committed, such as allowing a minor to drink alcohol, serving liquor after hours or operating without a liquor license. Cases such as these could lead to criminal charges in addition to a civil lawsuit from those who were allowed to consume alcohol and become intoxicated.

Although the dram shop law is generally used in connection with car accidents, there are other circumstances where it can be used. If an intoxicated patron has a physical altercation and injures someone, the injured party could file a personal injury claim under Pennsylvania's dram shop law.

It's not just the third party who can sue under the dram shop law. The intoxicated individual can also sue, as long as it is proven that the business knew the individual was intoxicated when served additional alcohol.

In most cases, it would be beneficial to contact a Philadelphia personal injury lawyer if you have been injured by an intoxicated individual to see if a violation of the Pennsylvania dram shop law applies to your case.

Help After a Philadelphia Personal Injury Accident

If you have been severely injured in a Philadelphia accident, you shouldn't have to suffer and pay for expensive medical bills that were caused by another person's negligence. Contact a Philadelphia personal injury lawyer at White & Williams LLP today. We will provide a no-cost, no-obligation consultation on your case - 877-944-8396.

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