You throw a party for family and friends to celebrate a birthday, wedding, or holiday. The drinks are flowing and everyone is having a good time, some more than others. One of your guests is clearly drunk, and yet, continues to drink. After telling you that they are okay to drive home, they get behind the wheel. An hour later, you get a phone call that they were in an accident, where passengers in the other car were injured and killed. Are you criminally liable for the accident?
According to the Pennsylvania Dram Shop Law, a place where liquor is served can be held accountable for serving or allowing an already intoxicated person to continue to drink and then causing injury or death to another person.
Pennsylvania, along with several other states, are now imposing laws that will find businesses, bars, restaurants, and even people hosting events liable for accidents due to driving under the influence (DUI) or operating under the influence (OUI) by one of their patrons or guests. Such functions may include a wedding shower, bachelor party, fraternity or sorority hazing ritual, family barbecue, and the annual office Christmas party.
The Dram Shop Law basically states that a business or place can be legally liable for the consequences of disobeying The Liquor Code. The Liquor Code states that it is unlawful to sell, give, or furnish alcohol to someone who is visibly intoxicated. Legal liability comes into play when you serve and let an already intoxicated person continue to drink.
Furthermore, if you know that a person at your home is an alcoholic and has a drinking problem (any prior convictions or arrests for DUIs or OUIs, fired for drinking on the job, or been in rehab), yet you let them excessively drink at your home, you can be held legally liable for their actions after they leave.