The holiday season is a time when many people throw festive parties to celebrate. Unfortunately, parties can sometimes get out of control and people can end up having too much to drink.
Our Montgomery injury lawyers know that if you are throwing a party or allowing your kids to have one, you have certain responsibilities as a host. Alabama has both dram shop and social host laws, which make bars, restaurants, vendors and even private homeowners responsible for serving alcohol to people who are drunk or under-aged.
Dram Shop and Social Host Laws
According to the law in Alabama:
- Code section 6-5-71 mandates that injured victims or family members of people killed “shall have a right of action against any person who shall, by selling, giving, or otherwise disposing of to another, contrary to the provisions of law, any liquors or beverages, cause the intoxication of such person for all damages actually sustained, as well as exemplary damages.”
- Code section 6-5-72 mandates that: “A person who unlawfully sells, furnishes, or gives a controlled substance…to a minor may be liable for injury or damage or both suffered by a third person caused by or resulting from the use of the controlled substance by the minor, if the sale, furnishing, or giving of the controlled substance is the proximate cause of the injury or damage.”
Essentially, these laws say that selling or giving alcohol to someone drunk or under aged makes you legally liable if the intoxicated person causes an accident. If you give party guests alcohol or if you knowingly allow friends of your children to consume alcohol or drugs in your home, you are thus responsible for the consequences and can be made to pay monetary damages if a third party is injured or killed as a result.
Not every state has these dram shop or social host laws, although data shows that these laws can reduce alcohol-related problems. According to the CDC, 44 states and Washington D.C. have laws holding commercial establishments responsible after an accident or death caused by someone who they had served alcohol to. Dram shop laws reportedly accounted for a 6.4 decrease in the number of fatalities in drunk driving accidents in states with such laws in place.
This means that dram shop laws save lives, and that every homeowner and business needs to be aware of the risk they take if they serve alcohol to someone they shouldn’t.
How to Avoid Becoming Responsible for an Accident
To ensure you don’t become legally responsible for an accident this holiday season, and to help make the roads safer, remember these simple tips:
- Don’t ever serve alcohol to someone underage and make sure your children do not have unsupervised parties in your home. If you have teenage children, ensure your alcohol is kept in a secure location where kids and their friends do not have access.
- If you have a party or special event, stop serving alcohol within an hour or so of the time when your guests need to leave. Don’t serve excess alcohol to someone who appears intoxicated.
- If a guest is impaired in your home, insist on taking him home yourself or calling a taxi. Do not allow a drunk friend to drive.
Hopefully, these tips will allow you to enjoy festive holiday celebrations without putting people at risk of accidents or yourself at risk for legal liability.
If you have been hurt in an accident, contact Allred & Allred P.C. for advice about your rights. Call for a free consultation at 334.396.9200.
More Blog Entries:
Injury Attorneys Urge Participation in Passenger Safety Week, Alabama Injury Lawyer Blog, September 24, 2013