Legal Liability for SERVING Alcohol

Did you know that social hosts can be held legally liable if an intoxicated person causes damage to people or property? With the holidays upon us, it’s a good time to get a reminder that you can have responsibility not only when it comes to drinking alcohol but also serving alcohol.

Forty-three states have Dram Shop Act laws which are laws that permit victims of drunken driving incidents/accidents to hold establishments such as pubs, bars and alcohol service facilities liable for damages, injuries and deaths incurred by a person that is intoxicated – and who was served by them! You can have legal liability for serving alcohol in two ways: 1) serving underage drinkers, and 2) serving visibly intoxicated adults.

Depending on what havoc drunken individuals wreak after they leave your holiday party, you can be liable for damages if victims or their families bring suit, or if there are criminal charges that can be filed against you in your jurisdiction. Dram shop laws vary from state to state but some versions:

Hold individuals who are social hosts, to the same standard as businesses that serve alcohol.
Do not hold a server liable, even if the person is intoxicated, as long as the host knows the person won’t be driving.

Allow the intoxicated person to sue the server if the intoxicated person becomes injured as a result of the establishment allowing him/her to drink too much.  Check your state’s laws. 

With many states having a zero tolerance for drunk driving, the last thing you want is to drink too much and drive or to be responsible for someone who does. Learn more about what will happen if you are arrested in: Real Life Legal’s “You’ve Been Arrested: Now What? By Maryam Jahedi, Esq.

Parker Press Inc. has provided this information concerning the subject matter covered, for educational purposes. Parker Press Inc. does not render legal or other professional advice, and information here is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney, nor does it constitute the rendering of legal or professional advice or services to a particular individual. If legal or other expert assistance is needed, the services of a qualified professional should be sought to address the specific needs in your situation. 

Susan G. Parker, Esq.

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