Social host liability laws make hosts responsible for the actions of guests who get intoxicated at a party. For example, if a guest causes a DUI (driving under the influence) accident after leaving your party, you may be partially on the hook for their crime. This is especially likely if there is evidence that you continued serving alcohol to a guest who was already intoxicated. If you are planning to host a party where alcohol will be served, take the following measures to minimize your exposure to social host liability:
Ensure There Are No Minors on the Property
One of the worst things you can do for your party is to let minors onto the party grounds knowing that alcohol is served – and allowing them to be served with alcohol. In fact, if a minor is served alcohol in your party you will be charged with providing alcohol to a minor even if they don't cause an accident. Therefore, have someone in charge whose job is to ensure there are no minors at the party.
Host the Gathering at a Licensed Property
You can also protect yourself by hosting the party at a bar or restaurant with a license to serve liquor. The advantage of this approach is that you get to use the establishment's servers who are adept at identifying those who are already intoxicated and shouldn't have more alcohol. This is safer than allowing an inexperienced or nonprofessional server to serve alcohol at your party.
Provide Limited Drinks
If you will be providing your guests with free alcohol, it's a good idea to serve it in limited quantities. Some people will go overboard, as far as alcohol drinking is concerned, if you provide them with free drinks. For example, you can have a policy where the first two drinks are free after which the guests have to buy their own alcohol.
Discourage Driving While Intoxicated
Despite your best precautions, some people will definitely get drunk at the party if alcohol is served. Some of those people will want to drive themselves home, which increases the risk of accidents for which you will be held at least partially liable. Therefore, it's in your best interest to discourage drunk driving. Here are some ways of doing that:
Consult a criminal defense attorney if you are facing criminal charges because someone committed a crime after getting intoxicated at your party. Social host liability is not an automatic application, and you may be able to defend yourself if you get help fast.
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