Are you a responsible host?

From summer barbeques to Christmas and many points in between, there are plenty of occasions to celebrate with friends and family. As a good host, you want to make sure everyone has a great time, but you should also be aware of your responsibilities even after your guests leave.

While most successful alcohol liability lawsuits have been against commercial businesses like bars and restaurants, as a social host you can be held legally responsible for the safety and sobriety of your guests if damages or injuries occur as a result of the alcohol you provide. You could also be liable if you knew your guest was intoxicated and you did nothing to prevent that person from driving or causing an injury to another person. Hosts are responsible for their guests’ behavior until they’re sober, not just until they leave the party.

How can you tell if your guest has had too much?

If you know your guests well enough, you’ll know when their behavior changes. Everyone reacts to alcohol differently, but typical signs include slurring and changes in speech volume or pace; sleepiness and decreased alertness; unsteady movements and stumbling; red eyes, excessive sweating, and noticeable shallow breathing. The goal as a good host is to know your guests well enough to catch them before their symptoms get too severe.

Add prevention to your party plans

  • Even before you send out your invitations and plan the menu, you can plan ahead for a fun and safe event for everyone.
  • A sober host is an alert host. Make sure you can keep track of what your guests are doing by limiting how much alcohol you drink.
  • Greet your guests as they arrive to see if they have had anything alcoholic to drink before arriving, and ask for their car keys if you’re concerned. Encourage your guests to use designated drivers.
  • Be the official bartender, or hire one trained in responsible serving. Make sure there are plenty of non-alcoholic drink options and stop serving alcohol a half hour before the party ends.
  • Serve lots of food, but choose your menu wisely. Proteins such as cheeses, meats, seafood, and raw vegetables with dip help slow down the absorption of alcohol.
  • Have a friend to back you up if you need to insist on calling a cab for someone. Don't give them the option to refuse.
  • Offer your guest a spare bed. Keep in mind that water, coffee and food may make the person more alert, but they don’t speed up the sobering process.
  • Remember, you’re responsible for what goes on at your party, and potentially what happens when your guests leave intoxicated. Having a plan with a few simple rules in place will ensure everyone has a good time, with a lot less worry for you as the host.

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