Social Host Liability

Everybody gets a little excited about the prospect of a party–and rightfully so.  Whether it’s celebrating a friend’s engagement, a congratulatory get-together after closing on a big account at work, or just family and fun, gatherings are a source of enjoyment for most people. Hosting a get-together can be quite fulfilling, but when an individual is the host of that party, they’ve got a few extra things besides what to wear and who to invite to worry about. One of these things is ensuring that their guests get home safely. There are several ways of going about this and, unfortunately, if these steps aren’t prioritized, what was intended to be big fun can end up being big trouble.

Preventing Gross Intoxication

One way to keep guests safe after they leave a party is to stop them from getting seriously intoxicated at the gathering. This actually isn’t as difficult as it sounds, and just because there is a party doesn’t mean everyone has to get “sloshed.” One great way of doing this is to keep non-alcoholic beverages out in the open. A nice area with coffee, juices and soda may well lead people to choose to stay sober. The non-alcoholic beverage station is a great idea, but obviously, many people are still going to opt for alcohol. Luckily, there are ways to keep people in the right state-of-mind even when they’re drinking. Providing hors d’oeuvres and other appetizers, especially ones with high carbohydrate and protein counts, can slow the absorption of alcohol in a person’s body.

Stopping Drunk Driving

It’s not very difficult to reach a level of intoxication beyond the legal driving limit. Regardless of how well someone handles their alcohol, if they have a .08 blood alcohol content (BAC) or higher, then it’s illegal for them to drive. One of the easiest ways of handling this is to have information on hand for a taxi service. Any guest who is intoxicated (or any guest you suspect may be intoxicated) should be made to call a cab. Also, it’s important to stop serving a person who is obviously intoxicated. This will not only ensure a fun party, but it will also help prevent the host from being held liable if the party-goer heads out and injures someone in an accident. Not only is that possibility emotionally stressful, it’s also, in many U.S. States, punishable by law.  It’s called Social Host Liability.

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Social Host Liability

The one thing that many hosts don’t realize is that they can be held liable for any injuries or deaths that occur due to a drunk driving accident caused by one of their party guests. Many state legislatures passed laws holding businesses that served already intoxicated patrons liable if that patron hurt anyone in a DUI accident. Unfortunately for many party hosts, these laws have been extended to social hosts in several areas as well.

Even assuming that a party host broke no law, such as serving a minor alcohol, they can still be held financially responsible for injuries caused by their party guests. An automobile wreck victim or their family can sue a party host; this is done when they allege that it was negligent of a party host to serve alcohol to an intoxicated person and then allow them to drink and drive. This often leaves party hosts in serious financial trouble due to having to pay personal injury or wrongful death settlements.  Also, as Steven Kellis DUI lawyer notes, “you need not actually operate the car in order to be arrested. You can still be found guilty if you had the capability and power to dominate, direct, or regulate the vehicle, regardless of whether you were exercising that capability or power at the time of the arrest.”

As you’ve probably gathered, there’s plenty to consider when taking on the responsibility of hosting a party.  Social host liability is a contentious area of the law, but it’s one that is currently seen as necessary. It’s a tragedy when anyone is injured or worse in a car accident, but when it occurs due to a person’s negligence involving alcohol, it can be even more disheartening. This is why it’s necessary for social hosts to ensure that their guests aren’t driving drunk. If saving a life isn’t a good enough reason to be responsible, avoiding serious legal issues should be.

Akilah Richards has worked as a legal assistant in several areas of law and has seen first-hand the tragic results of gatherings with friends gone awry.  She shares simple strategies to help people avoid situations such as drunk driving. If you or someone you care about is ever involved in any type of drinking and driving crimes in Pennsylvania, Steven Kellis DUI lawyer may be an invaluable resource.

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