COVID-19 Resource Center

March 27, 2008

Good Faith Defense In Dram Shop Cases

The Pennsylvania Dram Shop Act holds that it is negligence per se to serve a minor with alcohol. However, under Section 495 of the Act, no penalty shall be imposed on the bar if it establishes that the minor was required to produce an identification card and that such document was relied upon by the bar in good faith. The defense applies to all civil and criminal prosecutions.

In CSC Enterprises Inc. v. State Police, Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement, the Commonwealth Court was faced with the issue of whether a bar must produce as evidence a photocopy of the identification card utilized by a minor to establish the defense of good faith. The Court held that a bar is not required to produce either a declaration of age card, copy of the license or identification card in question to establish good faith under the Dram Shop Act. 

What It Means to You

The Commonwealth Court’s decision stands for the proposition that “acting good faith” is a state of mind which may be determined from the testimony of witnesses without further evidence. This includes scenarios where a bartender or other employee may not specifically recall receiving an identification card from a minor, but rather offers testimony that he/she “cards” all individuals as a matter of habit and/or bar policy. C&W attorneys are always available to work with their clients at the earliest possible opportunity following a claim to ensure that all critical information is documented and preserved.


CSC Enterprises v. State Police, Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement