Prom and Graduation Season: What You Need to Know about New York Social Host Liability Laws

Girls drinking

This time of the year is a time of celebration. For high school students, spring is met with the archetypal prom night or the long-awaited graduation. However, many of these celebrations are followed by afterparties, which may be fun in theory but can easily get out of hand and lead to serious injuries or consequences. It may be important to think about what could be at stake if you or your child decides to host such a party at your residence.

New York Laws on Underage Drinking

It is illegal for a person under 21 to purchase, consume, or possess alcohol on a licensed premise, in a motor vehicle, or in a public place. Additionally, there is a zero-tolerance standard in New York for underage drinking and driving.

Can I Be Held Responsible?

If you are a resident of Long Island and plan on hosting one of these parties, it is imperative that you are aware of the New York Dram Shop Laws. These laws state that if there are any damages as a result of an alcohol-related incident, the provider of the alcohol involved can be held liable. As a social host, you would be considered the provider of alcohol even if others bring and consume their own alcoholic beverages on your property.

New York courts can impose civil penalties on an adult caught serving alcohol to minors, which can pose danger to parents even after a party is over. For example, the host of a party can be held liable for injuries and death if there is an automobile accident connected with drunk driving afterward.

If a host is found at fault, damages would be determined by the losses of the plaintiff with regard to medical bills, costs of rehabilitation, lost wages, property damage, value of services, and quantifiable pain and suffering. Punitive damages can also be sought in some cases if the court deems them appropriate to punish a defendant and deter future misconduct.

Minimizing Risks During and After Parties

Underage alcohol consumption is always a considerable risk for minors, but even more is at stake when they get behind the wheel of a car after drinking. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), nearly a third of teenage alcohol-induced traffic deaths happen between April and June, right in the middle of both prom and graduation seasons.

As a parent, there are steps you can take to mitigate the risk of harm for both you and your children. Talk to your children and impress upon them the costs associated with drinking underage. If you host a prom or graduation-related gathering, be present, pay attention to guests, and intervene if they have had too much to drink. Lastly, make sure every driver is sober, or plan ahead for the transportation of your guests.

If you or a loved one have been hurt as a result of an alcohol-related incident, the attorneys at Goldstein & Bashner could help with your claim for compensation. Call today to schedule an initial consultation.

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