Underage Drinking and Driving
Dram Shop laws in Pennsylvania impose liability on commercial vendors and social hosts who supply alcoholic beverages to minors and to visibly intoxicated people who injure third parties. In states such as Pennsylvania, Dram Shop laws serve as a deterrent to underage drinking by giving adult hosts an incentive not to serve alcohol to minors.
Underage drivers account for 17 percent of alcohol-related car accidents in spite of making up only about 11 percent of total drivers on the road, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The intoxication rate for 16 to 20-year-old drivers in fatal car accidents in 1996 was 14.1 percent, according to a report issued by the Joint Committee on the States.
Illegal to Serve Alcohol to Minors
Under Pennsylvania law, furnishing alcohol to a minor is a serious crime. “Furnishing alcohol” also includes allowing minors to possess alcohol or property owned or controlled by the person charged. In Pennsylvania, a first offense could result in fines of up to $2,500, and/or up to one year in jail. If you request or induce a minor to purchase alcohol for you from any licensed dealer, you could be convicted and fined not less than $300 up to $2,500, and/or sentenced up to one year in jail.
Retail establishments that serve alcohol must be extremely vigilant when it comes to underage drinking. Recent dram shop cases prove that businesses will have an extremely difficult time dodging a dram shop liability case involving underage drinkers. In such cases, a victim who has been injured by an underage drunk driver only needs to prove that the server knew or should have known that the patron was under 21 years old. Unlike a server’s duty not to serve visibly intoxicated patrols, the duty to refrain from serving underage drinkers does not depend on whether they seem drunk or not. Establishments cannot and should not serve underage individuals period.
Pennsylvania’s Social Host Laws
Pennsylvania also has social host liability laws. Social host laws basically give communities a practical tool for holding adults accountable. Law enforcement officials can cite the person who hosted the underage drinking party on their property. When an underage drinker obtains alcohol at such a party and then causes a car crash injuring innocent victims, then the party host could be looking at a civil liability lawsuit. The victim could sue the party host for providing alcohol to the minor who in turn caused the crash and the resulting injuries and damages.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured due to the actions of a reckless adult social party host or an establishment that provided alcohol to an underage individual, please contact the experienced Pennsylvania liquor liability lawyers at Cherry Injury Law to obtain more information about your legal rights and options.
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If you have been seriously injured in the state of Pennsylvania by the negligence of another and if you have questions or concerns about your legal rights, please don’t hesitate to call. Our Pennsylvania injury attorneys are available 24 hours a day to speak with you, and we welcome all calls at no charge. Contact us today at 610-565-0300.