Social Host Laws: What Every Parent Should Know

Young people drinking

Long Island’s social host laws were created to help put a stop to underage drinking by punishing adults who serve alcohol to minors in their homes. By making it a crime to serve underage guests, these laws help put liability on homeowners for any accidents or injuries caused by the underage drinking they allow in their home.

How do Social Laws Affect Parents and Those Hosting Parties at Their Home?

If you host a drinking party for your teenager and their friends and one of your drunken guests causes a car accident, you, as the host, may be responsible. You may even be liable for other criminal actions such as an assault or rape on behalf of an intoxicated guest. Sounds like a lot to be held accountable for, right? Well, it’s true, and its extremely important for people to be aware of throughout the year–but especially during prom season, graduation season, holiday breaks and summer.

As important as it is for parents to be aware of these laws, it may be even more vital that parents pass this information on to their children. I’ve heard about numerous cases in which parents went out of town, left their children, and had their homes transformed in an under age drinking party. Then, as you may have predicted, one of the intoxicated guests caused trouble, and the parents were held responsible. Many times, this resulted in a civil lawsuit against the parents. This means that your hard earned home and money may be put at risk.

Parents, too, are not immune to these types of cases. There have been incidents in which parents had other adults over for cocktails, only to be hit with a lawsuit after an intoxicated guest caused some type of harm to others.

So How Can Social Hosts Protect Themselves?

  • Take everybody’s keys as they enter your home. Make sure that nobody is able leave and then drive while still intoxicated.
  •  Arrange a cab, or some type of alternative sleeping situation for an intoxicated guest.
  •  Ensure that you have an “umbrella” insurance policy. This means that if you are sued for an amount that is higher than your home owners insurance protection plan, then the umbrella policy will kick in and pay for any damages that exceed your initial coverage. Although this policy may cost more to obtain, it may be well worth it for those who frequently have gatherings at their homes.

At Goldstein and Bashner, we want to see that you have a safe and enjoyable summer. We advise you to protect yourself and make smart choices before having events at your home. If you have any questions about social host liability laws, please contact our personal injury attorneys at 516-874-0466.

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