As a party host, you probably don’t want to think about your potential liquor liability. But it’s something you’ll want to consider as your party planning gets under way this holiday season.
That’s because most states hold party hosts who offer excessive alcohol to their guests responsible for those guests’ actions behind the wheel. In those states, anyone injured by a drunk driver has the right to sue the host of the party who served the alcohol. Sometimes, criminal charges may even apply.
Recommendations on how to host your holiday party
This doesn’t mean you need to call off your party. Instead, keeping a few things in mind may significantly reduce your exposure to social host liquor liability.
- Limit guests to people you actually know—and seriously consider cutting from your list anyone who habitually overindulges.
- Encourage your guests to choose a designated driver before they arrive. (Can you guess what made our list of 5 ways to find a designated driver?)
- Serve plenty of nonalcoholic drinks and food to help counter the effects of the alcohol.
- Have activities like dancing or games going on that don’t involve alcohol.
- Stop serving alcohol well before the party ends.
- Offer to call a cab or be the designated driver for anyone who appears intoxicated.
Want more advice for holiday hosting? Read these 10 tips for hosting a holiday party without stressing out, or this essential guide to a safe (and fun!) New Year's Eve.
To limit your exposure to liquor liability even more, consider:
- Hosting the event at a restaurant or bar that has a liquor license rather than at your home.
- Hiring a professional bartender. Pros may be better able to recognize the signs of intoxication — and it’s easier to cut off someone you don’t know. This is especially true if a bartender completed the ServSafe® Alcohol program.
As a final precaution, review your homeowners or renters policy. It may offer coverage for damages sought by someone injured by a party guest. Get an in-depth look at homeowners insurance from ERIE.