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What the Dram Shop Act means to Businesses Serving Alcohol

Jaime D. Jackson

In Pennsylvania, it is unlawful for a bar to serve alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person. A bar who serves alcohol to a visibly intoxicated individual, who then causes harm to another, may be responsible for the harm caused.  This law is intended to protect the community from bar customers being overserved and either injuring themselves or others in the community while intoxicated, whether it is behind the wheel of an automobile, in a fight with another individual or any harm to another caused by their alcohol-impaired state.

 

If a bar serves alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person and that person harms himself or someone else, under Pennsylvania law the bar may be responsible for all of the harms and losses caused. Under Pennsylvania Law, this is commonly referred to as a Dram Shop Action.

 

A Pennsylvania statute (Dram Shop Act) makes a business, which sells alcoholic drinks, serves liquor to a drinker who is visibly intoxicated or close to it, liable to anyone injured by the drunken individual. It is important to note that this law does not just apply to bars, but to any business with a liquor license that serves alcohol. This becomes increasingly important nowadays, as facilities like grocery stores, convenience stores, and other businesses now serve alcohol, yet may not have alcohol safety policies in place to monitor how much any one individual has been drinking.

 

Also, injuries caused by drinking and driving are entirely preventable when people make the correct safety choices. However, one of the purposes of the law, recognizes that drunken individuals do not always make the safest choices, and it’s the bar who makes money from selling alcohol who needs to make safe and responsible choices as part of its alcohol safety management plan to prevent harm and protect the public.

 

According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, a person is injured every two minutes of every day in a drunk driving crash in this country.

The safety lawyers at Atlee Hall have made it one of their goals to enforce the alcohol safety and liquor liability (Dram Shop) laws and hold those who violate them accountable and responsible for the harms and losses caused, when bars over-serve visibly intoxicated individuals or when people who have been drinking get behind the wheel of an automobile and injure others in our community.