Keeping Friends & Family Safe at Summer Parties
Memorial Day seems to unofficially mark the start of summer party season: Graduation parties, Fourth of July BBQs, pool parties, Labor Day parties, you name it. But before you host your next party—or let a loved one attend someone else’s party—there are a few things you should remember about alcohol and driving while intoxicated to ensure that you, your family and your guests stay safe this summer.
Social Host Liability
If you host a party where alcohol is served, you could bear some responsibility if a drunk party guest injures someone else under what is known as social host liability.
A drunk person cannot collect for injury to himself, but someone else who is hurt by the actions of a drunk person can collect from a social host under certain circumstances. This is especially important when the drunk person has little or no insurance to cover a serious or fatal injury.
Laws vary widely by state, with some states not imposing any liability at all on social hosts. Other states limit responsibility of social hosts to injury that occurs on the premises where the party is being held. Other states extend social hosts’ liability to injuries from traffic accidents involving the person to whom they served alcohol.
Most states impose liability on social hosts where:
- You as the party host served alcohol to a minor
- You were reckless in serving alcohol or should have recognized the extent of the guest’s intoxication and not served him or her more alcohol
Regardless of the laws in your state, there are a few precautions you can take to keep anyone who attends a party from being hurt or injuring someone else:
- Make sure minors don’t drink alcohol
- Stop serving people who seem to have had too much to drink
- Encourage designated drivers, don’t let people drive, arrange rides for those who are drunk, call taxis or invite people to sleep at your home if they are drunk
Protecting Your Loved Ones
It’s common knowledge that drugs and alcohol impair people’s judgment. And it’s no secret that teens can show questionable judgment even when sober. Add alcohol to the mix and kids can do stupid things. (Of course, dumb behavior isn’t limited to teenagers.)
Create an environment where your loved ones know that they can rely on you rather than putting themselves in a dumb situation. Ask yourself: Would your teenage child call you for a ride instead of getting in a car with a drunk driver? Would your teenage child call you for a ride rather than driving himself home if he were drunk?
When it comes to teaching your children right from wrong, you have to let them know that not all "wrongs" are equal. Yes, underage drinking is wrong. But better to admit they’ve been drinking than to drive while drunk or get into a car with a drunk driver.
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