What is social host liability?
If you have ever wanted to have a social gathering at your home, then you need to know about social host liability. It is almost fall. The kids are back in school, the weather is cooling down and football season is upon us. This is a popular time of year for people to get together around a backyard bonfire or host football watching parties in their homes. You may be having a gathering at your home and provide alcohol for your guests. However, if your guests include those under 21 years of age, you need to stay attentive to the possibility of underage drinking.
In South Carolina, if minors or those under 21 are drinking alcohol in your home, and there’s an accident, the host of the underage gathering may face liability. This is called social host liability. It is against the law to serve or give a person under the age of 21 alcoholic beverages. Most social host liability laws are targeted toward reducing alcohol related injuries and deaths by minors. Specifically, these laws place responsibility on the supervising parent or adult to not serve alcohol. They should not even make it available.
You may be held accountable if a minor leaves your home after they have been drinking and there are any alcohol-related injuries. In addition, this includes injuries to the minor as well as any other individuals whose injuries or death resulted from the minor being provided with alcohol.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism:
By age 15, about 35 percent of teens have had at least 1 drink.
By age 18, about 65 percent of teens have had at least 1 drink.
In 2014, 8.7 million young people ages 12–20 reported that they drank alcohol beyond “just a few sips” in the past month.
So what happens if your child hosts a party in your home while you are present and there is underage drinking taking place. You clearly did not serve anyone in the literal sense of the word. But social host liability extends to anyone who caused a person under the age of 21 to be served alcohol, as well. And if you are not supervising the children properly, and, in effect, allowing alcohol to be brought into your home or on your property and consumed there, then yes you are likely causing an underage person to be served alcohol in your home.
So remember, its against the law to serve minors alcohol, period. And if you serve, or cause a person under the age of 21 to be served alcohol, and there’s an accident with injuries, you could be responsible for the monetary damages caused by those personal injuries under social host laws.
In conclusion, whether you are hosting or your kids are hosting a gathering, if there is alcohol in the home, be sure to take precautions. Supervise what is going on at your house during the party. Lock up your alcohol or keep it in place where it will be difficult to obtain in order to deter and prevent underage drinking.
On the other hand if you were underage and were at a party or social gathering and the host served you or caused you to be served and you injured someone or yourself, you may have a case against the host server. Feel free to call us about legal representation about what happened so we can protect your rights going forward.