Hosting a Party and Drunk Driving

With the holiday season approaching, this is the right time to make sure your parties are both fun and safe. Alcohol consumption is a leading risk factor at parties, especially during the winter.

The International Risk Management Institute notes that almost 13,000 people per year (about 35 per day) are killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes [Source: National Highway Transportation Administration].

Many of these tragic accidents happen after an inebriated person leaves a party — an event in which the host of that party might be held liable for injuries and deaths. While it is possible that there might be coverage under your personal auto policy or homeowners policy if you (as the host) are held legally responsible for such a terrible accident, a wiser risk management strategy is to avoid or reduce the chance of loss altogether. Here are some tips to consider if you (or a resident family member) occasionally host social events involving alcohol.

  • Surveys of youth indicate that the most common source of alcohol is the young person’s own home. Thus, closely monitor social events your youth hosts to make sure there is no drinking allowed — particularly any type of illegal underage drinking. Do not allow your teenager to host a party when you are out of town.
  • Limit the amount of alcohol served at your event.
  • Make sure that there is plenty of food to accompany the drinks. The consumption of food slows down the absorption of alcohol.
  • Encourage designated drivers and provide nonalcoholic drinks for these guests.
  • •Look for signs of intoxication. An intoxicated person often has trouble walking, has slurred or loud speech, or is atypically uninhibited. There is not, however, a fool-proof method of determining whether someone is intoxicated.
  • Restrict alcohol to any near-intoxicated or intoxicated persons by offering instead some food or alternative nonalcoholic drinks.
  • Consider hiring trained bartenders. As they are trained to recognize and deal with intoxication, using professional bartenders can significantly reduce the risk and may help in defending a claim.
  • Do not allow the intoxicated guest to drive away from the event even if you have to take away his or her car keys. Instead, offer to drive them home or provide a free cab service. Soliciting the help of the guest’s spouse or a close friend may help.