As a party host, you want to make sure that everyone is having a good time. Often, serving a few drinks is just the thing to get everyone relaxed and happy. However, there are alcohol laws in place that could leave you potentially liable for a variety of incidents, even if they happen after your intoxicated guests have left your property.
Called social host liability, these laws are aimed at hosts who serve alcohol in a private setting. A different set of laws applies to commercial vendors and alcohol sales, but, as a social host, the alcohol laws you should be concerned about are the ones that stem from how much alcohol you serve, how you serve it and to whom you serve.
Alcohol Laws Vary by State
Different states have different regulations, and the alcohol laws can range from a state having little or no liability placed on the host to extending the responsibility to the host for a guest's traffic violations, property damage and even fatalities. Make sure that you understand your state alcohol laws before you leave the bar wide open for your guests.
Most states enforce two social host liability laws almost across the board. They are:
To be considered reckless, it must be proven that the host did nothing to limit the alcohol consumption of guests whose judgment and physical condition were obviously impaired. A host might be considered reckless if they strongly encouraged a guest to drink excessively, especially after the guest is obviously highly intoxicated. Serving alcohol to minors is the other big no-no, and a party host should do everything possible to ensure that underage drinking simply does not occur. The Alcohol Policy Information System Web site has state-by-state resources concerning social host liability issues, laws and regulations.
Steps to Control Alcohol Consumption
It's easy to keep control over alcohol consumption at your party by following these simple tips.
Set Up a Bar
Beyond the general rules, you can curb alcohol consumption by making your event more formal:
Whether your party is at home or at a fine venue, you still need to make sure your guests get home safely:
There is no better way to beat the summer heat than to throw a fabulous cocktail party. The great thing about cocktail parties is that they require minimal work and almost guarantee a good time.
Being a good bartender requires more than just delicious concoctions or being an experienced mixologist, just as being a good guest requires more than just enjoying tasty libations. Whether hosting or drinking, it is important to belly-up to the bar with an assortment of well-polished icebreakers.