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Are You Liable For Your Guest? Under Social Host Liability Laws You May Be

Each year over 1 million people are charged with driving under the influence. This number does not even include those who are stopped and not charged, or those who make it home without being caught. While a large number of these people probably have purchased the alcohol they consumed, others were supplied alcohol in the homes of their friends or family during a social event. What many of these hosts may not realize is that by supplying alcohol, and then allowing the intoxicated guests to leave their property, they may be guilty of social hosting. There are steps you can take to ensure this is not you.

What Is Social Hosting?

When you have guests in your home, you want to make sure they have a good time. This often means providing the food and beverages that they like to consume. Unfortunately, if you are serving alcohol, your duties do not stop there. You must monitor your guest to ensure they do not consume more than they should, and if they do, you must make sure they do not get behind the wheel of a vehicle when they leave your premises. If you fail to do this, you may be guilty of social hosting. This means that you may be found to be liable, and you can be sued if your guests are involved in an accident on their way home that causes injury to someone else.

The social host liability laws vary greatly from state to state. In nine states social hosting liability only applies to you if your guests are underage. These states are:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Kansas
  • Michigan
  • New Hampshire
  • Utah
  • Wyoming

There are eighteen other states in which the laws apply to anyone who consumes alcohol in your home, or at an event you are hosting. The good news is, there are ways you can reduce, or even protect yourself from this type of liability.

How To Ensure Your Are Not Charged As A Social Host

When you plan your party, limit the amount of time you will be serving alcohol. Purchase, or create some fun mocktails, or non-alcoholic beverages. There is a wide variety of the types you can create, and you will be able to find one, or more drinks to fit every occasion. Not only will this limit the amount of alcohol your guests consume, but it will also give your non-drinking guests the ability to enjoy a mixed beverage as well.

Remember if your event is taking place outside, sun can heighten the effects of the alcohol your guests may be drinking. It is also a diuretic and can cause your guests to quickly become dehydrated. Make sure you serve plenty of water, or other hydrating fluids.

Always serve some type of food when you are serving any type of alcohol. Although it may be tempting to simply set a bar up out by the pool, remember that alcohol on an empty stomach will be absorbed much faster. Foods high in carbohydrates such as pasta salads, and potato skins work best to slow the absorption of alcohol.

Have one or more designated drivers on hand to ensure all of your guests get home safely. If a driver is not available, consider calling your guest a cab. Picking up the tab for a cab ride will be cheaper than being sued in court if anything were to happen.

Above all else, you must know your limits. Not only will you be setting a good example for your guests, but you must maintain your sobriety in order to be able to monitor their sobriety levels.

You would never want to be responsible for someone getting hurt, or killed because you did not make sure your guests were sober enough to be behind the wheel. Drinking and driving not only puts the offending driver at risk, but it puts anyone else who happens to be in their path. Everyone must do their part to ensure this does not happen. You can click here for more info on DUI laws in your state.