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Can You Be Charged If One Of Your Party Guests Gets Drunk?

Holidays and parties seemingly go hand-in-hand. But serving as party host brings responsibilities in making sure your guests are safe – especially if alcohol is served. In this issue, we’ll address the topic of social host liability, and whether or not you – as party host – can be arrested if one of your guests injures someone else after the party.

What is social host liability?

A “social host” is anyone holding a gathering of just about any kind, from a friendly dinner to a large party. A social host can be an individual, group or corporation. The term “social host liability” refers to the legal responsibilities – physical and financial – caused by a drunk guest who injures someone else when the social host:

  • Served alcohol to the drunk guest
  • Knew, or should have known, that the guest who caused the harm was intoxicated
  • Was aware that the drunk guest was going to be driving after the party

How does Arizona enforce social host liability laws?

The laws for social host liability vary by state. Here in Arizona, however, your exposure to liability – or risk of being charged – is limited. While the law in some states will hold social hosts responsible for just about any damage and injury caused by drunk guests after they leave your home, there are just two (2) situations under Arizona law in which you as social host could be held liable for such injuries. They are:

  1. If you’re licensed to sell or provide alcohol
  2. If a minor (under 21) consumes alcohol during your party and hurts someone else – even if you did not provide the booze

How can I make my holiday party safer for my guests?

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’ll be serving alcohol at your place during a holiday party:

  • Don’t serve alcohol to minors
  • Make sure your alcohol supply is in your presence and secure at all times
  • Don’t let guests bring alcohol onto your property (this way, you’ll be in a better position to know if any of yours is missing)
  • Put in place a designated driver program for your party and encourage your guests to serve as designated drivers
  • Hire a babysitter to supervise children or include an activity for older children away from your party
  • Make sure your insurance policy covers you for alcohol or liquor liability (single-event policies are available with some insurance agencies for larger events)
  • If a guest appears drunk, call a cab, Uber or Lyft driver for them
  • Make sure you stay sober so that you’re in a better position to monitor your guests

Happy Holidays from The Oswalt Law Group

We hope you have a wonderful and safe holiday season. If you or one of your guests is charged with driving under the influence (DUI), call us here at The Oswalt Law Group. For a free consultation, call (602) 225-2222.

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