In Articles, Personal Resources

Like with the rest of the United States, the drinking age in Pennsylvania is 21. While this law is consistent, for a long time, Pennsylvania had alcohol laws in place that were much stricter than in other states in the nation. With the changing times, many people started pushing the Keystone State to catch up to some of its more lenient neighbors. Only recently have some of these changes come to fruition, but how will these new Pennsylvania alcohol laws change its citizens’ drinking habits?

Changing Pennsylvania Alcohol Laws

For a long time, Pennsylvania was known as an alcoholic beverage control state where only government stores could sell wine and spirits. These state liquor stores were one of the few ways to purchase alcohol, and they were even closed on Sundays. In rare instances, convenience stores were granted special licenses to sell beer, but these were hard to come by. Some companies tried to find legal loopholes and work around the strict laws, but these cases were escalated to the state supreme court with no luck.

It wasn’t until 2016 that these laws started changing, and Pennsylvania became more lenient when it came to their liquor laws. The new Act 39 allowed for grocery stores, restaurants, and gas stations to sell wine and beer so long as they had a license. It also extended state liquor store hours and allowed them to be open on Sundays. Wine can now even be sent directly to people’s home. While these changing PA alcohol laws led to some drastic modifications in the former laws, there are still some catches. Many gas stations and grocery stores still do not have a license to sell alcoholic beverages and there are customer limits for those that do.

A Look at the Changing Alcohol Laws in Pennsylvania

Although some people may argue that Pennsylvania liquor laws still have a long way to go, the changes have already been drastic. With such big updates, many people wonder how these changing PA alcohol laws could impact people’s drinking habits.

In some studies outside of the United States, increasing the sale of alcohol by two or more hours also increased the prevalence of alcohol-related harms.1 Because the state liquor stores hours have been expanded, it is possible that these longer hours may be leading to more alcohol-related harm incidents in the state. Other studies have shown similar trends. Higher drinking ages, monopolies on alcohol sales, and limited sale hours have been associated with effectively reducing alcohol sales, use, and problems.2 As the alcohol laws in Pennsylvania continue to become less strict, it may lead to a rise in alcohol-related issues.

As an alcohol rehab in PA, we are here to help those whose drinking may have gotten out of control. Alcohol can be mostly harmless for some people, but it can also be addictive and dangerous. The more regularly and frequently someone drinks, the more at-risk the person is of developing health problems or experiencing alcohol-related harm. It is better to get help before these problems develop.

Our drug and alcohol centers in PA are designed to help people like you move past their addiction and work toward happier and healthier lives. Whether you need help for yourself or you have a loved one in need, we are here. To learn more about our facility and programs at Clearbrook Treatment Centers, call us today at 570-536-9621.


  1. NCBI – Effectiveness of Policies Restricting Hours of Alcohol Sales in Preventing Excessive Alcohol Consumption and Related Harms
  2. NCBI – Regulating Availability: How Access to Alcohol Affects Drinking and Problems in Youth and Adults
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