July 29, 2015

One of the worst aspects about drinking and driving accidents is that they are completely preventable. When people take the step to consume alcohol before getting behind the wheel, they are making a purposeful choice. Pennsylvania law is clear that any driver with a blood alcohol concentration beyond 0.08 is considered legally impaired and not permitted to drive.

One of the problems with the so-called “legal limit” for alcohol is that sometimes it can become difficult for bar owners, restaurant staff or other individuals who serve alcoholic beverages to know when a patron is beyond the legal BAC. The reason why that is important is because Pennsylvania recognizes the Dram Shop Act. These laws make it illegal for bartenders, servers and other alcohol licensees to sell beverage alcohol to minors and to customers who are visibly intoxicated.

In fact, under the dram shop laws, victims who have been injured by an overserved customer in a DUI accident can sue the individual employees or owners of an establishment if they sold alcohol to a visibly intoxicated person or if they sold alcohol to a minor.

There are a few things you should know if you have been injured by someone who may have been physically intoxicated before they left a bar, nightclub or restaurant. It may be difficult to establish whether a person was clearly drunk prior to getting into their vehicle.

A personal injury attorney can depose staff members and other witnesses who may have seen a visibly drunk person served alcohol and record their statements under oath. Obtaining testimony regarding a drunk driver’s prior behavior at a liquor establishment can prove vital to your case.

Things like a bar patron speaking loudly, buying rounds of drinks for the house, behaving crudely or stumbling can go a long way towards establishing liability under dram shop rules. If successful, you may be able to recover compensation related to your drunk driving accident injuries.

Source: Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, “A handbook about responsible sale of alcohol for Pennsylvania Licensees,” accessed July 29, 2015