Proposed Bill to Change Pennsylvania Liquor Laws

The Pennsylvania State House of Representatives recently proposed a bill in hopes of changing a few Pennsylvania liquor laws. Campaigned by restaurant and bar owners, some wonder if the new laws will only increase drunk driving related traffic accidents. Proposed by Rep. John Payne (R-Dauphin County), House Bill 148, will change the times restaurant and bar owners designate "happy hour" – the window of time establishments that serve alcoholic drinks at discounted prices. Currently, restaurants and bars are allowed to implement a happy hour for just two hours per day. But, House Bill 148 would change the time period from two hours a day to 14 hours per week, allowing each establishment to determine how and on what days to allocate the hours. Tavern owners say the change will allow them a chance to offer discounts on alcoholic beverages for longer periods on some days, like Monday night football. However, others say, expanding happy hour time frames will only encourage individuals to drink more alcohol in one sitting and increase the potential for drunk driving. Wayne Harper, director of the Center for Traffic Safety and President of Pennsylvania DUI Association, agrees and says that "longer happy hours would provide more opportunities for massive amounts of alcohol to be consumed in a single sitting, especially for those on a limited budget." He indicates the need "to look at what type of impact extending happy hours would have as connected to safety on highways." The House Bill will also allow patrons to purchase up to three unopened bottles of wine from a restaurant. Under the current law, customers are allowed to purchase just one bottle. In 2009, over 50,000 drivers were arrested for driving under the influence in the state of Pennsylvania. That same year, there were over 400 alcohol impaired driving fatalities. Sources:

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