December is party season. Whether it's coworkers, friends, or family, the calendar fills up fast with hors d'oeuvres, candy, carols, and, for many, a whole lot of alcohol. It's the most wonderful and gluttonous time of year. We've earned it!
If you've decided to host one of these holiday parties, you know you have your work cut out for you.
But, when the big night finally arrives, lost in all the hoopla and noggy goodness may be your duty to keep an eye on all of your guests.
Understanding 'Social Host Responsibility'
Just like bars and restaurants have a legal responsibility to not overserve customers or let obviously drunk customers drive away, "social host responsibility" laws serve mostly the same function.
In short, if one of your guests drinks too much at your party, drives drunk, and causes an accident, you can be sued in addition to the drunk driver for any injuries, deaths, or property damage. In fact, the drunk driver may be able to sue you as well.
These laws vary by state. In some states, the law only covers criminal penalties for providing and serving alcohol to minors.
What You Can Do
If you are going to host a host a holiday party where alcohol will be served, there are several things you can do to ensure everyone celebrates responsibly:
- Provide non-alcoholic drinks to designated drivers
- Make anyone who drives to your party hand over their keys if they are going to drink
- Call taxis, Uber, or Lyft for guests
Even if you didn't know your 16-year-old nephew was sneaking drinks, if it happens under your roof, it is your responsibility. Keep an eye out, before you end up on the wrong side of the law.
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