What Is Considered Visible Intoxication? | Scartelli Olszewski, P.C.
visible intoxication of a man drinking alone

What Is Considered Visible Intoxication?

Peter Olszewski
Peter Olszewski

In Pennsylvania and many other states, restaurants and alcohol stores are legally required not to sell alcohol to anyone visibly intoxicated. If they do, they are legally and financially responsible for injuries or damages the person garners on themselves or inflicts on others.

This begs the question, what is visible intoxication? Not everyone holds their alcohol the same. Some have a tolerance to alcohol that they’ve built up over years, and some can lose their lucidity after a few drinks. What would a court consider visible intoxication? The dram shop liability attorneys at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C. can explain.

What is Visible Intoxication?

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board defines visible intoxication as “a level of impairment that is evident upon common observation such as a person’s behavior or appearance.” While this is the standard that alcohol servers have to use, this is an incredibly vague definition. Someone could appear drunk but have a disability, be recovering from brain trauma, or just have a strange personality.

Whether you’re an alcohol provider trying to defend yourself or were injured by someone who was provided too much alcohol, it’s hard to prove or disprove whether someone meets the definition of visible intoxication. To fix this problem, there are a few signs of visible intoxication that you can use to prove or disprove whether someone was visibly intoxicated when they purchased their alcohol. Some of these are recommended by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board itself.

Signs that Someone is Visibly Intoxicated

It’s important to understand that no one sign will let you know that someone is intoxicated. It usually takes multiple signs to know for sure that someone is drunk. These signs include:

  • Loud speech
  • Boasting
  • Crude behavior
  • Drinking alone
  • Drinking too fast
  • Slurred speech
  • Ordering doubles
  • Buying rounds
  • Stumbling

When you’re serving alcohol, you need to make sure that you’re paying attention to how much someone is drinking and how they appear when you give them a drink. An alcohol-serving establishment won’t become responsible for getting someone drunk, but for continuing to serve someone alcohol once they are intoxicated.

Why Visibly Intoxicated People Can’t Receive More Alcohol

When you or a loved one were hurt by someone who was heavily intoxicated, the person serving them alcohol may have been able to prevent a bad situation and didn’t. Giving someone more alcohol once they are intoxicated is taking advantage of them for money. An intoxicated person loses the capacity to say no, and is less likely to understand what they can and can’t do.

This can lead to the alcohol server getting more sales at the cost of someone’s health or safety. This is why alcohol-serving establishments are responsible for people they gave alcohol to while knowing they were intoxicated.

How Can Visible Intoxication Lead to Someone’s Injury?

Alcohol is a depressant, so when you drink it, it will dull the parts of your brain that control your body and how you think. Emotional and mental walls that keep us from doing or saying things we know we shouldn’t deteriorate as we drink alcohol.

For example, someone who is drunk may react violently to something that doesn’t call for violence,. Or maybe they decide it’s okay to drive a car while drunk. Whatever an intoxicated person does, if someone else served them alcohol while they were already visibly intoxicated, then responsibility for any damages or injuries is shared between them.

What Should You Do If You Are Injured By Someone Who Was Visibly Intoxicated?

If you or someone you know is injured, the first thing you should do is get your injuries treated. Then you should report everything you know to the police so that an investigation can begin and contact an attorney. Your attorney can raise legal charges against the one who injured you and follow up with the police investigation to learn more about your injury. If someone was heavily intoxicated when they harmed you because someone kept giving them alcohol, they should have to cover the cost of your injuries as well.

Pennsylvania allows you to wait up to 2 years before you can no longer file a lawsuit. This means you and your legal team can take time to investigate who else you should hold responsible other than the intoxicated one who hurt you.

The dram shop liability attorneys at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C. have extensive experience helping people get compensation for personal injuries caused by drunken individuals. You can trust us to help you get the compensation you deserve. Contact us today.

Peter Olszewski
Peter Olszewski

Peter Paul Olszewski, Jr., a shareholder and managing partner at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C., brings 37 years of litigation experience. He is a renowned trial lawyer in Pennsylvania, specializing in medical malpractice, personal injury, and criminal defense. Peter's notable achievements include securing multi-million-dollar verdicts and serving as District Attorney and Judge. He is committed to community involvement and is actively engaged in various legal associations.
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