Many people about to host New Years Eve parties are worried about having enough food for their guests, following up with people who haven’t RSVP’d and giving directions to attendees. However, one thing that potential social hosts rarely think about is the liability that could come back on them from serving their guests alcohol.

Social Host Liability in South Carolina

In some states, social host liability could lead a person who provides alcohol to a party guest to be held both criminally and civilly responsible if that guest injures someone because he or she is intoxicated. Under certain circumstances, if a party guest drinks and then kills someone in a drunk driving car accident, not only could the family of the person killed sue the host for wrongful death, the host may even face criminal charges.

In South Carolina, social hosts may be held responsible for individuals who drink at their party and injure someone if the guest was under the legal drinking age of 21. If the underage person gets into an accident, the host could face fines and imprisonment for serving the minor, as well as negligence and wrongful death or injury lawsuits from the victim. For the most part in South Carolina, social host lawsuits are decided on a case-by-case basis. Any person who is having a New Years Eve party this year should make sure to be responsible for all their guests, regardless of age, by not serving minors and by not over-serving adults or allowing them to drive drunk.

Tips for New Years Social Hosts

  • Make it clear that the party is a ‘no drinking and driving party’.

Many hosts will choose to collect keys from party guests who are drinking at their party and help those guests to make alternative arrangements prior to drinking. It is much easier to keep drunk drivers from driving when there is already a plan in place for their transportation.

  • Make use of local businesses.

Social hosts can take their good hosting abilities a step further by setting up a car service or even a party bus to transport their guests. There is virtually an endless list of choices available for those who would like to set up a car service for their party guests, and many are available as a low price.

In addition, social hosts can set up car pooling with designated drivers at the party. This is a great low cost option that will keep everyone safe.

  • Be prepared for belligerence.

Unfortunately, every once in a while, a social host will run into a party guest who is intoxicated but insists he or she is fine to drive. If the host can’t prevent the guest from trying to drive, the host should tell the guest that the authorities will be alerted if he or she drives. While it might seem rude to call the cops on a guest, is also rude for that guest to put the host as risk by insisting on driving drunk. When planning a New Years Eve party, above all insist on responsibility. If guests know that drunk driving is an absolute ‘don’t’ at a party, and if alternative arrangements have already been made, a social host can avoid being held responsible for another person’s poor judgment.

References:

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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