When someone drinks alcohol, it's a personal choice they're making, which is why many feel like it is unfair that bar owners can be held liable for drunk driving accidents that take place because someone was irresponsible and chose to get drunk at the owner's bar. Under the terms of Pennsylvania dram shop laws, bar owners and owners of other businesses that sell alcohol can legally be held responsible for what customers do when they leave the establishment. Dram shop laws vary somewhat from state to state, and here in Pennsylvania, dram shop laws pertain to not only bars and restaurants, but also events, such as wine tastings and even weddings.
It is the responsibility of a bar owner, restaurant owner, or event coordinator or supervisor to keep a close eye on people who are drinking, especially those who are consuming enough to get visibly intoxicated. This usually applies to anyone who is having more than two drinks (wine, beer, liquor) an hour. Dram shop laws can hold a bar owner responsible for a drunk person who injures someone in a fight, injures or kills someone while driving, or injures or kills themselves while driving.
Essentially, dram shop laws oblige a bar owner or event overseer to take the proper steps to ensure a visibly intoxicated person does not drink anymore, does not drive anywhere, and does not hurt anyone else. In Pennsylvania, it is technically against the law to serve anyone who is visibly drunk.
In Pennsylvania, state government realizes that business owners are not entirely responsible for stopping an already-intoxicated person from consuming more alcohol. The person drinking at least shares half the blame because that person made the conscious decision to imbibe. This is a point of contention at almost all levels of law and many judges see it as very subjective.
If you have been injured by someone who became visibly drunk at a bar, restaurant, or event, you can contact the drunk driving & dram shop liability personal injury attorneys at Goodrich & Geist for a free consultation at 800-806-2456.