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What is Social Host Liability?

If you are thinking of hosting a party where alcohol will be served to your guests, there are a few things you need to know about your potential liability.  If your guest becomes intoxicated from drinking at your party and later injures another person, you may be held responsible for this other person’s injuries.  This is what is known as “social host” liability and it extends to serving alcohol to both adults and minors.

For example, you invite a guest to your house for a dinner party.  While he is at your house, you serve him several alcoholic drinks.  The guest becomes visibly intoxicated throughout the night and you know your guest will be driving home.  Yet, you continue to serve him drinks.  Your guest then drives home and gets into an accident and injures another person as a result.  You as the “social host” will be found liable for injuries to this other person. You, as a reasonable person, could foresee that by continuing to serve your guest alcohol was making it more and more likely that your guest would not be able to operate his car carefully.  Unless you stopped serving your guest alcohol, it is foreseeable that your guest is likely to injure someone as a result of driving his car. 

There are many things you can do to lessen the possibility you'll be held responsible for your guest's actions after drinking too much.

• Discourage guests from drinking excessively.
• Stop serving anyone who appears visibly intoxicated.
• Do not serve minors alcohol.
• Host the event at an establishment licensed to serve alcohol, where professional waiters can monitor alcohol intake and politely stop serving anyone they perceive has had enough to drink.
• Do not let your guests drive home and insist they sleep over.

Don't let an evening with the intention of providing entertainment end with a family bearing the grief of a child or other loved one’s death.

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