Hosting a giant (or patriotic, as the case may be) Super Bowl party comes with more than just colossal clean-up duties. It may also make you personally liable for drunk party guests' actions -- even after they leave your house.
That's because throwing a party and serving alcohol makes you a social host in the eyes of the law. Under general legal principles, a social host has an obligation to the public to serve alcohol to guests in a safe and responsible manner.
Consequences can be costly.
For example, if one of your Super Bowl guests has too much to drink and gets in a crash while driving home from your party, you may be held liable for any third-party injuries, depending on the laws of your state.
In general, state laws about social hosts call for different types of liability:
Underage liability: Laws in nine states explicitly hold social hosts liable only for the actions of underage guests -- who shouldn't be served alcohol anyway.
All-ages liability: Another 18 states hold social hosts liable for all guests' actions, regardless of age. But some states like Connecticut provide for harsher penalties when the guest is under 21.
- General negligence: With or without an explicit social host liability law, a host can still face legal consequences under a general theory of negligence. This happens when a social host knows or should know that a guest is intoxicated and will soon get behind the wheel, but does nothing to stop the guest from driving drunk.
Again, each state's law is different. Check out FindLaw's Social Host Liability page to see the laws that apply where you live. If you're still confused, you may want to consult a local attorney before one of your Super Bowl guests gets drunk and commits a major party foul.
- Police offer Super Bowl party kits to prevent drunken driving (The Plain Dealer)
- Practicing Your Serve: A Look At "Social Host" Liability (FindLaw)
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