What Exactly Is A Dram Shop Law?

Though they’re not enacted nationwide, most U.S. states, including Pennsylvania, use dram shop laws of some sort. Generally, dram shop rules dictate that if an establishment serves a visibly intoxicated person alcohol, the establishment is liable for damage inflicted by said person. While this can offer protection for both the damaged and the drunkard, dram shop rules certainly bring about a number of difficulties.

Dram Shop Laws In Pennsylvania

Most states establish specific dram shop rules with their own particular punishments and fines. Currently, Pennsylvania’s Liquor Code specifies:

  • If a licensee or employee sells alcohol to an intoxicated person or a minor, he or she could face fines of up to $5,000 and/or a prison term ranging from 3 months to 1 year
  • If any other person violates these rules, they may face fines between $100 and $500
  • Anyone convicted of knowingly selling alcohol to a minor in Pennsylvania will be fined a minimum of $1,000 and faced with a possible prison sentence of up to 1 year per offense

Prosecuting Based On Dram Shop Laws

Pennsylvania’s dram shop laws might be invoked in a number of situations. An accident involving a drunk driver is one common example, while an injury sustained during a fight started by the intoxicated party could be another. If you’re involved in a similar incident, you might be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, property damage and much more.

Claims concerning Pennsylvania’s dram shop laws must be filed within 2 years of the date of the incident, according to the state’s statutes of limitations. In order to effectively invoke these laws and successfully file a claim against a certain establishment, the following two things must hold true:

  • Alcohol was served to a visibly intoxicated person
  • The choice to serve alcohol directly resulted in injuries or damages

The primary issue with filing these claims, however, is that there is no by-the-book definition of visible intoxication – even if many of the signs seem obvious. The need for eyewitnesses is a key aspect of pursuing this type of lawsuit. If you believe an establishment is responsible for damages that you’ve suffered, make certain to get in contact with the experienced attorneys at Thomas, Conrad & Conrad Law Offices to discuss your situation and begin building your case today.


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