How Dram Shop Laws Could Affect Restaurants Across Pennsylvania

How Dram Shop Laws Could Affect Restaurants Across Pennsylvania
person opening beer bottle in car

The Coronavirus pandemic is increasingly affecting the many restaurants and bars across Pennsylvania. To provide relief to some of these businesses, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed House Bill 327 into law on April 29, 2020. The bill, also referred to as H.B. 327, allows for many businesses to sell mixed alcoholic drinks for off-site consumption. While many restaurants and bars may profit financially from this bill, it could also result in an increase in lawsuits filed against them due to Pennsylvania’s Dram Shop laws.  Despite these entities being permitted to sell alcohol in more contexts than prior to the pandemic, this law does not in any way make it legal to drink and drive.

How To-Go Alcohol Sales May Affect Businesses

While the sale of carry-out alcoholic beverages may help many businesses remain profitable during the COVID-19 pandemic, they may also present a liability. Pennsylvania’s Dram Shop laws allow a person to hold a business liable for serving alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person. For instance, Dram Shop laws are often cited in car accident cases where one party was under the influence of alcohol, and causes an accident after drinking in a bar that should have stopped serving him or her.

Intoxicated Driving Concerns Across Pennsylvania

PA’s Dram Shop law may play a much larger role in car accident cases now that to-go and carry-out sales of alcoholic beverages have risen across the state. Additionally, online and curbside pickup sale of liquor and alcohol at Fine Wine and Good Spirits stores in Pennsylvania have significantly increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The increased sale of to-go, carry-out, and curbside pick-up alcoholic beverages has also raised concerns about substance abuse by many experts, including the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs. In addition to concerns about substance abuse, many are worried that the increased sale of alcohol may contribute to an increase in drinking and driving. Data from the personal breathalyzer company BACtrack found that the average BAC for Pennsylvanians in April increased by 10 percent compared to the previous month.

Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident due to the negligence of an intoxicated driver, you may be entitled to compensation. Navigating the legal aspects of your case could add additional stress to an already taxing time. An experienced car accident attorney from Marcus & Mack could examine the specifics of your claim and determine if Dram Shop laws are applicable. To speak to one of our knowledgeable personal injury attorneys, contact us today.

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