Privatization of Pennsylvania Liquor Stores – Liability for Negligence


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Liquor stores in Pennsylvania may soon be private. Early this year, Pennsylvania’s governor, Tom Corbett, proposed a new law that would take liquor sales out of the state’s hands. This means hard alcohol and beer could be available in Pennsylvania grocery stores, gas stations, and all kinds of other private stores.

Critics of the proposed legislation argue that easier access to alcohol will increase consumption, leading to a whole host of problems. However, Pennsylvania rates of binge drinking are already on par with other, nearby states which make alcohol available in grocery stores, gas stations, etc. For example, Pennsylvania rates of alcohol binge drinking mirror those of neighboring New York, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland and Virginia. *Source

Pennsylvania remains one of the only states in the country which almost exclusively controls the sale of alcohol. If the legislation is passed, hard alcohol would be much more easily accessible. The concern is that individual store owners may not be trained in selling alcohol to minors or those who are already visibly intoxicated. For example, a minor with a fake ID may attempt to buy alcohol and if subsequent accident occurs, the store which sold the alcohol could be held liable. Similarly, if an already intoxicated person purchased alcohol and later injured someone, the store may also be liable.

Related: Pennsylvania Bar & Restaurant Liability for Drunk Driving Accidents – The Importance of Prompt Investigation

In addition to proper training, there must be clearly established policies and procedures in place. In Pennsylvania, Dram Shop Law addresses liability in situations of the negligent sale of alcohol. Having proper procedures in place and then ensuring the procedures are followed are important in avoiding liability for negligence in serving alcohol. This same principle applies to clubs, bars, restaurants and, if the new law passes, other alcohol retailers, like grocery stores, etc.

Because alcohol in Pennsylvania has been strictly sold by state run stores, these types of issues and cases against private stores have been mostly absent.  If the new law is passed, that may all change. We can certainly expect to see an increase of these types of cases.


Pennsylvania and New Jersey Alcohol Liability Law Firm

Our lawyers have represented many clients against different establishments for negligence stemming from serving too much alcohol or serving a minor. For more information, contact our Pennsylvania and New Jersey alcohol liability lawyers.

**This website does not provide legal advice. Every case is unique and it is crucial to get a qualified, expert legal opinion prior to making any decisions about your case. See the full disclaimer at the bottom of this page.