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What Is A Host's Responsibility When Having a Holiday Party?

December 2, 2016 | Category: Blog, DUI

This is the season of shopping and celebrating. Many friends and families gather for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s get-togethers. It is a time of joy and peace. Unfortunately, a dramatic increase in DUI offenses and alcohol-related highway deaths has also become a tradition of the season. 


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 728 people will be injured or killed each day between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day in drunk-driving accidents; a rate two to three times higher than the rest of the year.  

What Is the Host's Responsibility When Having a Holiday Party - Spviey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that compared to the average of 29 percent during the rest of the year, 35 percent of Thanksgiving Holiday highway deaths are alcohol-related; 41 percent of Christmas Holiday highway deaths are alcohol-related and 58 percent of New Year’s holiday highway deaths are alcohol-related. 

There is a great deal of responsibility for hosts if alcoholic beverages are served at their parties. Many do not realize that they may face legal consequences if a guest drives under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs served at the parties and subsequently becomes involved in an accident with injuries and/or deaths. Also, serving a minor under the age of 21 is against the law. 

Who is responsible? 

It is most typical that whoever is pouring the alcohol may be held liable should intoxication result in an accident or injury. It does not matter whether the driver is coming from a bar, a restaurant, or holiday party. Because of the potential liability, hosts planning an event where alcohol will be served should be certain to take precautions. 

What does the law say? 

In many states the consequences of over-serving alcohol extend to the host. Social hosts can be legally liable if they recklessly encourage a guest to continue drinking when it is clear he/she is drunk. Most states also place liability on social hosts in situations where alcohol is served to a minor or where the host should have recognized and stopped serving an obviously intoxicated guest. 

A social host may be liable for third party property damage and personal injury where the following conditions are met: 

  1. The social host served alcohol to a person(s)
  2. He/she knew or should have known the person(s) were intoxicated, and
  3. He/she knew the person(s) would be driving afterwards. 

How to reduce your social host liability? 

Responsible hosts know that part of showing guests a great time is making sure they get home safely. The best way to do this is through careful planning, and, if you are serving alcohol at your party, here are some tips from the Insurance Information Institute to make sure that everyone stays safe: 

  • Have non-alcoholic drink options available.  
  • Food is the key. Always serve food with alcohol to help counter the effects of the alcohol. 
  • Do not serve alcohol to minors. The legal drinking age is 21, and as a host, it is your responsibility to make sure minors are not drinking. 
  • Make sure you understand your state laws. Before sending out party invitations, familiarize yourself with your state’s social host liability laws. These laws vary widely from state to state. Some states do not impose any liability on social hosts. Others limit liability to injuries that occur on the host’s premises. Some extend the host’s liability to injuries that occur anywhere a guest who has consumed alcohol goes. Many states have laws that pertain specifically to furnishing alcohol to minors. 
  • Consider venues other than your home for the party. Hosting your party at a restaurant or bar with a liquor license, rather than at your home, will help minimize liquor liability risks. 
  • Hire a professional bartender. Most bartenders are trained to recognize signs of intoxication and are better able to limit consumption by party-goers.  
  • Encourage guests to pick a designated driver who will refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages so that he/she can drive other guests home.  
  • Be a responsible host/hostess. Limit your own alcohol intake so that you will be better able to judge your guests’ sobriety.  
  • Do not pressure guests to drink or rush to refill their glasses when empty. And never serve alcohol to guests who are visibly intoxicated.  
  • Stop serving liquor toward the end of the evening. Switch to coffee, tea and soft drinks.  
  • If guests drink too much or seem too tired to drive home, call a cab, arrange a ride with a sober guest or have them sleep at your home.  
  • Encourage all your guests to wear seatbelts as they drive home. Studies show that seatbelts save lives.  

Everyone likes to have a good time. Whether you are planning a small get-together with friends, or a larger event, party hosts are responsible for making sure the event is not only fun, but safe. 

"If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving a drunk driver, contact the experienced attorneys at Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A.,” said Attorney Randall Spivey.  



Hurt By Drunk Driver Attorney, Randall L. Spivey is a Board Certified Trial Attorney – the highest recognition for competence bestowed by the Florida Bar and a distinction earned by just one (1%) percent of Florida attorneys.  He has handled over 2,000 personal injury and wrongful death cases throughout Florida.  For a free and confidential consultation to discuss your legal rights, contact the Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.A., in Lee County at 239.337.7483 or toll free at 1.888.477.4839, or by email to  Visit for more information.  You can contact Spivey Law Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, Charlotte County at 941.764.7748 and in Collier County 239.793.7748.


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