The Phoenix DUI Law Blog

How Social Host Laws Can Hold You Liable

Legally speaking, a social host can be held liable for any injuries a drunken guest causes after driving away from a party. Now doesn't that put a damper on your party plans?

Well it shouldn't. Arizona's laws aren't as strict as social host laws elsewhere in the country. For example, in Arizona you won't be held liable for serving a drunken guest who then hits someone with his car, even if you served him too much or maybe should have taken away his keys.

But there is one specific exception: serving underage guests.

When Social Host Liability Applies

If you provide alcohol to anyone under 21 and that person goes on to injure people or property while intoxicated, you could be held liable for any damage caused.

To prove social host liability, the plaintiff has to show three things:

  • A party host served alcohol to the underage guest who caused the injury;
  • The host knew the person was intoxicated when he served him; and
  • The host knew that person was going to be driving later on.

Willful ignorance isn't a defense, so don't think you can turn a blind eye to underage drinkers in your house. If you should have known people under 21 were being served, you can also be held liable.

How to Avoid Liability

If you haven't thought about it before, the idea of being liable for someone else's drunken driving could cause you to rethink your party plans. And that's probably a good idea. You don't have to rescind your invitations, just change how you'll be serving alcohol.

The first thing is to be aware of who's on the guest list. If you don't have underage guests, this is much less of a concern.

But even if you won't be liable as a social host, it's still good to keep your guests safe both during and after the party.

Encourage people to have designated drivers and ask who is doing the driving. It may also help to limit the amount of alcohol at the party so that guests can't get too drunk. You can all still have a good time and no one has to throw up in the living room.

Just like DUI laws, social host laws are designed to keep people safe on the roads and avoid accidents related to alcohol. So when you throw a party, don't forget to be safe.

Related Resources: