Holidays are a time for gathering your friends and family to celebrate all that is good. You may have attended parties in the past or even hosted some. You may not even think twice about the liabilities to consider for a safe party.
Have you considered hosting a holiday party this year? What things should you be concerned about or plan to avoid? Are there really things you could be legally liable for when it comes to the guests who attend? Let’s look at more details you should be aware of so that you can be sure to have a successful party this year and for years to come.
Who is Considered a Social Host?
Some of the most common descriptions of a social host are:
- Someone serving or allowing alcohol on their property (underage or not)
- Someone providing alcohol to guests at no charge
- Someone with a relationship with their guests (not including an employer/employee relationship)
Hosting Parties with Underage Drinking
While there are many “social host” laws or “anti-social host” laws depending on the state you live in, almost all of them have one thing in common. These are the parts of the law that make adults liable for knowingly allowing and/or providing alcohol to be consumed on their property. So even if alcohol is just made available for underage drinkers, you can be held liable.
Incredibly, many parents have responded to such charges with the idea and argument that “it should be okay if their teenagers and friends are drinking at home with them (adult parents) where they know it’s safe.” While this is not legally the case, other problems can arise from this belief too.
Binge drinking is a common result of drinking at home, and teenagers can often leave the “safe home” where they consume their alcohol and cause other problems. These problems can include property damage or even getting behind the wheel and ending up with a DUI or, worse, hurting or killing someone or themselves.
It’s never a good idea to knowingly allow youth to drink on your property or elsewhere. It may be tempting to be the “cool” parent. However, you may be liable later. So instead, do your part to stop underage drinking.
Personal Injury Liability for the Host
Imagine hosting a fun party at your home where drinking alcohol is part of the festivities. Some of your guests drink, enjoy some fun, and then decide to leave. Then, out on the road, a drunk driver coming from your party hits another person and injures or kills them. Because your guest received the alcohol provided by you (or others) at the party you hosted, depending on the law in your state, you could be held liable or partially liable for the injuries sustained by your party guest.
It is important to be careful about the drinks you will be serving at your upcoming party. At the very least, it should make you more aware of your guests and how much you are serving them.
Are You Liable?
Depending on the situation and where you live, irresponsibly hosting a party with alcohol can be a choice you may regret. Even if you aren’t serving minors, the potential injuries or damage caused by your intoxicated guests can be life-changing for you and those involved.
Educating your friends and other potential party hosts in your state’s social host laws is also essential. Unfortunately, it’s common for even the most responsible adults not to know about the liabilities they can face when it comes to hosting a party with alcohol.
Protect Yourself When Hosting a Party
In order to protect yourself and your guests from trouble, there are a few key things you can choose to do at your party, including:
- Never encourage or provide alcohol to minors. Even if they are your teens
- Be aware of the amount of alcohol your guests are consuming and stop serving them if they’re becoming intoxicated
- As the host, don’t drink so that you are able to monitor and care for your guests
- Make sure there is plenty of food for guests so that the effects of alcohol can be weakened
- Offer non-alcoholic drinks to your guests
- Consider hosting a party without alcohol entirely in order to keep everyone safe
- If a friend or family member has had too much to drink, don’t be afraid to take their keys
- Keep tripping hazards inside your home and outside away from your guests (including salting icy steps and walkways)
Hosting a Party Without Alcohol
Although it may sound different and not very fun, hosting a party without any alcohol at all can have some fantastic benefits. Plus, you can have all ages invited to your event without the worry of minors getting their hands on some adult drinks.
Here are some tips for throwing the party of the year, all while avoiding the liability and safety concerns that can come with alcohol at the festivities.
- Make sure to let your guests know beforehand that it will be an alcohol-free party. This way, they won’t bring any alcohol along with them.
- Provide other fun drinks like hot cocoa with lots of mix-in choices.
- Fix up your space with fun lighting, decorations, and music.
- Encourage activities like games, movies, dancing, or more.
You’ll soon find that your parties can be just as fun without the alcohol and potential liabilities on your mind.
Have Questions or Need Help with a “Social Host” Liability Charge?
If you have already been charged in a “social host” liability situation or are getting ready to host a party and want to know more about your responsibilities, we can help. The attorneys at Gainsburgh, Benjamin, David, Meunier & Warshauer, L.L.C. are well versed in the laws in your area. We would be happy to communicate and explain your situation. Protect yourself, your guests, and those you love by contacting us for more information today. Call us at (504) 522-2304.