During the holiday season that runs from Thanksgiving to New Years, many people will host in some type of party that involves friends and family. Most of these parties will involve a lot of food, and some will involve various types of alcohol. If you are the host of the party, part of your job is to monitor your guests to ensure that they are not consuming alcohol at your party and then getting behind the wheel of their car. If you fail to do so, and a car accident happens, you may find yourself facing legal charges. The steps you take may not only keep you out of trouble, but they may also save the lives of others.
What Do The Statistics Say About Drunk Driving And The Holidays?
Statistics show that there is a significant increase in the number of alcohol-related deaths take place during the holidays. For example, in 2011, the statistics reflect that alcohol was involved in
- 40% of all fatal auto accidents that occurred during Thanksgiving
- 38% of all fatal auto accidents that occurred during Christmas
- 54% of all fatal auto accidents that occurred during New Years
Most, if not all of these accidents could have been completely avoided.
What Is A Social Host Law?
Social host laws, which are also sometimes called dram shop laws when applied to retail establishments, have been put into place in many states. These laws are designed to address your responsibility when it comes to serving alcohol in your home, or at your party. Unfortunately, these laws vary widely from state to state. For example:
- Some states give immunity to social hosts for alcohol related auto accident deaths and injuries.
- Nine states have social host laws that specifically address furnishing or serving minors alcohol in your home.
- Eighteen states have general liability social hosts statutes that apply to guests of all ages.
If your state has laws in place, you could face criminal as well as civil liabilities, and even if there is no law in place, you could still possibly be held civilly responsible. This means that you could be sued by the injured or the estate of the person that was killed.
How Can You Be A Good Social Host?
Part of planning to perfect party is to ensure you have a plan in place to address any contingencies that may arise as a result of your party. If you are serving alcohol, you must make sure that you have plans in place to address your guests who may consume more than they should.
Pay Attention: One of the most important things that you need to do as the host of your party is to pay attention to your guests. This is often difficult to do if it is an extremely large party, or if you are drinking yourself. If either of these are the case, ask a friend or other family members to assist you with this task. Look to see who is drinking and how much are they drinking. Make sure that those who are drinking have a plan in place to get home without getting behind the wheel of their vehicle. Have a list of cab or car companies, or offer to let them spend the night at your house.
Serve The Right Foods: Foods that are protein rich and/or high in fats help to slow down the movement of the alcohol into the blood stream, which will help to keep people from becoming overly intoxicated. While veggie and fruit trays may be attractive to those who are diet conscious, meat and cheese trays are better choices for those who are drinking.
Serve Something Else Fun To Drink: No one wants to feel like they are the only ones at the party who are not drinking. Fortunately, there is a wide selection of mocktails that will often look, and even taste like alcohol, without the intoxicating side effects. Also, make sure to have water on hand to help to offset the dehydrating effects that alcohol can have, as well as to give your guests other options when they are looking for something to drink.
Say No: No one wants to be the host who starts a fight at the end of a great party. You may have to be that host if you suspect that one of your intoxicated guests is getting ready to get behind the wheel of their vehicle. Step in and say no. Take their keys, block their car in your driveway, or do whatever else it takes to keep them off of the road. While they may get mad at you tonight, they will live and may even thank you on tomorrow.
Everyone has a responsibility to prevent drinking and driving during the holidays. Unfortunately, not everyone takes this responsibility seriously. If you or a loved one has been injured by a drunk driver, seek the services of a knowledgeable and experienced auto accident attorney. They will not only know the social host laws in your state, but they will also know how to secure the compensation that you and your family deserve. Contact a firm like Gelman Gelman Wiskow & McCarthy LLC for more information.