The holiday season has come and gone here, but that doesn’t mean the gathering with friends and family is over. From Christmas and New Year’s parties and beyond, they’re filled with delicious food and drink. Unfortunately, this brings a dramatic increase in DUI offenses and alcohol-related deaths on Georgia’s highways.
The NHTSA reports that compared to the average of 29% during the rest of the year:
35% of Thanksgiving Holiday highway deaths are alcohol-related.
41% of Christmas Holiday highway deaths are alcohol-related.
58% of New Year’s holiday highway deaths are alcohol-related.
Serving alcohol at a party places a great deal of responsibility on the hosts, who may not realize they could face legal consequences if a guest drives while intoxicated and injure or kill someone, or if any guest is under the legal drinking age of 21.
Who is responsible?
Typically, whoever is pouring the alcohol can be held liable if intoxication results in an accident or injury. Remember that when filing a suit, the attorney usually will sue everyone who may be held responsible in any way.
Consequences of over-serving alcohol
In many states, there are legal consequences if the host over-serves alcohol extent guests. Social hosts can be legally liable if they recklessly encourage a guest to continue drinking when it is clear they are drunk. Most states also place liability on social hosts in situations where they are serving alcohol to a minor or where the host should have recognized and stopped serving an intoxicated guest.
A social host may be liable for third party property damage and personal injury under the following conditions:
- The host served alcohol to a person(s)
- He or she knew or should have known the person(s) were intoxicated, and
- He or she knew the person(s) would be driving afterward.
Reduce your social host liability
Given the potential liability, anyone planning an event where there will be alcohol served should take certain precautions.
- Have non-alcoholic drink options available. Always serve food with alcohol to help counter the effects of alcohol.
- Don’t serve alcohol to minors.
- Make sure you understand your state’s laws. Laws vary widely from state to state. Some states don’t place any liability on social hosts. Others limit the host’s liability to injuries that occur on their premises. Some extend the host’s responsibility to injuries that occur anywhere an intoxicated guest goes. Most states have laws that specifically address serving minors alcohol.
- Choose venues other than your home for the party.
- Hire a professional bartender for your party. Bartenders recognize the signs of intoxication and can tactfully limit consumption by party guests.
- Encourage guests to have a designated driver who will stay sober so that he or she can drive other guests home.
- Stop serving liquor near the end of the party. Offer guests coffee, tea, or soft drinks.
- If guests drink too much, call a cab, arrange a ride with a sober guest, or have them sleep at your home.
If you or someone close to you has been involved in an accident in Georgia involving a drunk driver, you need to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney such as Tyler Moffitt to determine your rights.