Social Host Liability for Football Watch Parties

Hosting a football watch party and serving alcohol? Be a responsible host. If you’re hosting a party at your home and planning to serve alcohol – take steps to limit your liquor liability and make sure you have the proper insurance.

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Introduction to Social Host Liability

Social host liability is a legal term and area of law that deals with the liability of a person who supplies liquor to a guest. Under social host liability laws, the host shares any liability incurred as a result of actions by an intoxicated guest to whom he or she has served liquor. This law is similar to dram shop liability which applies to bars, taverns, liquor stores and other businesses that serve alcohol.

Some states do not impose any liability on social hosts. Others limit liability to injuries that occur on the host’s premises. Some extend the host’s liability to injuries that occur anywhere a guest who has consumed alcohol goes. Many states have laws that pertain specifically to furnishing alcohol to minors.

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Minors
Most states have these laws, which hold a host responsible for providing liquor to minors in any situation that results in injuries to the minor, or injuries that the minor causes to others due to alcohol intoxication.

Adults
Some states have stricter social host liability laws which go beyond underage drinking. These laws can hold you responsible for accidents caused by anyone allowed to drink to excess then injures themselves or a third party.

Liability
While a social host is not liable for injuries sustained by a drunken guest (as the guest is also negligent), the host can be held liable for harm to third parties, and even for passengers of the guest who have been injured in their car. There are circumstances under these laws where criminal charges may also apply.

Tips to Protect Yourself and Your Guests

Remember that a good host is a responsible host. If you plan to serve alcohol at a party, promote safe alcohol consumption and take these steps to reduce your social host liability exposure:

  • Make sure you understand your state laws. These laws vary widely from state to state (see chart). Some states do not impose any liability on social hosts. Others limit liability to injuries that occur on the host’s premises. Some extend the host’s liability to injuries that occur anywhere a guest who has consumed alcohol goes. Many states have laws that pertain specifically to furnishing alcohol to minors.
  • Consider venues other than your home for the party. Hosting your party at a restaurant or bar with a liquor license, rather than at your home, will help minimize liquor liability risks.
  • Limit your own alcohol intake as a responsible host/hostess, so that you will be better able to judge your guests’ sobriety.
  • Offer non-alcoholic beverages and always serve food. Eating and drinking plenty of water, or other non-alcoholic beverages, can help counter the effects of alcohol.
  • Stop serving liquor toward the end of the evening. Switch to coffee, tea and soft drinks.
  • Encourage guests to pick a designated driver who will refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages so that he or she can drive other guests home.
  • If guests drink too much or seem too tired to drive home, call a cab or rideshare service (Uber, Lyft, etc.) or have them sleep at your home.
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Which states have Social Host Liability laws?

Some states do not impose any liability on social hosts. Others limit liability to injuries that occur on the host’s premises. Some extend the host’s liability to injuries that occur anywhere a guest who has consumed alcohol goes. Many states have laws that pertain specifically to furnishing alcohol to minors.

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures

Note: This chart should be used for general informational purposes and is not intended as a legal reference. If you have questions regarding social host or dram shop liability, please contact an attorney in your state or your state attorney general’s office.

State

Vendor Liability for Adults?

Vendor Liability for Minors?

Social Host Liability for
Adults?

Social Host Liability for
Minors?

Relevant Statutes/
Case Law

Alabama

Yes

Yes

No

Limited

§ 6-5-71,
§ 6-5-72

Alaska

Limited

Yes

No

No

§ 04.16.030;
§ 04.21.020(a); §04.21.080(a)(l).

Arizona

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

§§4-311; 4-301; 4-312(B)

Arkansas

Yes

Yes

No

No

§16-126-103; §16-126- 104;

California

No

Limited

No

No

BUS §25602; BUS §25602.1

Colorado

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

§§12-46-112.5; 12-47-128.5

Connecticut

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

§ 30-102

DC

Yes

Yes

No

No

Case Law

Delaware

No

No

No

No

Florida

Limited

Yes

No

No

§ 768.125

Georgia

Limited

Yes

Limited

Yes

§ 51-1-40(b)

Hawaii

No

Yes

No

Yes

Case Law

Idaho

Limited

Yes

Limited

Yes

§ 23-808

Illinois

Yes

Yes

No

Limited

§ 235 IILCS 5/6-21

Indiana

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

§ IC7.1-5-10-15.5

Iowa

Yes

Yes

No

Limited

§§ 123.92; 123.49(1)

Kansas

No

No

No

No

Kentucky

Yes

Yes

No

No

§ 413.241

Louisiana

No

Yes

No

No

§ 9:2008

Maine

Yes

Yes

Limited

Yes

28-A MRSA § 2501 et seq.

Maryland

No

No

No

No

Massachusetts

Yes

Yes

No

Limited

Case Law

Michigan

Limited

Yes

No

Yes

§ 436.1801(3) & (10)

Minnesota

Yes

Yes

No

Limited

§340A.801

Mississippi

Limited

Yes

No

Yes

§ 67-3-73 (2) & (4)

Missouri

Limited

Yes

No

No

§ 537.053

Montana

Limited

Yes

No

Yes

§ 27-1-710

Nebraska

No

No

No

No

Nevada

No

No

No

No

§ 41.1305

New Hampshire

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

§ 507-F:1 et seq.

New Jersey

Limited

Yes

Limited

Yes

§2A:22A-1 et seq.

New Mexico

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

§ 41-11-1

New York

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

§§ 11-100 & 11-101

North Carolina

Limited

Yes

Limited

Limited

§§ 18B-120 et seq.

North Dakota

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

§ 5-01-06.1

Ohio

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

§§ 4399.01, 4399.02, & 4388.18

Oklahoma

No

Yes

No

No

Case Law

Oregon

Yes

Yes

Limited

Yes

471.565(2); §471.567

Pennsylvania

Limited

Limited

No

Yes

47 § 4-497

Rhode Island

Yes

Yes

No

No

§3-14-6; §3-14-7.

South Carolina

No

Yes

No

Limited

Case Law

South Dakota

No

No

No

No

§§ 35-4-78, 35-11-1, & 35-11-2

Tennessee

Limited

Yes

No

No

§57 10 101; §57 10 102; Case Law

Texas

Limited

Limited

No

Limited

§2.01 et seq

Utah

Limited

Limited

No

Yes

§ 32A-14-101

Vermont

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

7 § 501

Virginia

No

No

No

No

Washington

No

Yes

No

Yes

§66.44.200; Case Law

West Virginia

Yes

Yes

No

No

§ 55-7-9

Wisconsin

No

Yes

No

Yes

§ 125.035, Case Law

Wyoming

Limited

Yes

No

Yes

§ 12-8-301

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