Am I Liable if My Guests Drink and Drive?

Social host liability is a real thing, and you should be fully informed of this legal responsibility before serving alcohol at your next soirée. Of course, not all states have social host liability laws, such as New York and California, but most do. So, do your part by learning what it takes to be a safe and responsible social host.

Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers Indianapolis Indiana 317-881-2700
Drunk Driving Accident Lawyers Indianapolis Indiana 317-881-2700

Key Facts Surrounding Social Host Liability

If you are planning to serve alcohol to guests at your next event or party, be sure you know where you stand in terms of legally liability. The law will hold you [and therefore your home owner’s insurance company] responsible for the actions and inactions of your intoxicated guests, including drinking and driving. In fact, DUI cases are among the most common scenarios in which social host liability comes into play. If you knowingly serve alcohol to an already-inebriated guest or over-serve alcohol to a formally-sober guest, and then they drive home, you can be held legally responsible for any damages and losses they cause while operating their vehicle under the influence of alcohol.

Whether they drunkenly decided to joyride across a private golf course, fall asleep at the wheel and hit a pedestrian, or cause a serious auto accident that results in bodily harm to another, responsibility for these incidents could link back to you if the driver got drunk at your party on your alcohol. In serious cases, a social host could face criminal charges on top of a civil lawsuit.

Serving Minors

Social hosts also have a legal duty of care to ensure alcohol does not get in the hands of anyone who is under the legal drinking age. If you are caught serving alcohol to a minor, and that minor, under the influence of alcohol, drives and gets into an accident, you could be held civilly and criminally responsible. This also applies in some cases of unknowingly supplying alcohol to minors. In the case that your teenager and some friends steal the liquor from the cabinet, and then an accident takes place as a result of their intoxication, the law might hold the homeowners and legal guardians liable.

Dram Shop Laws

Restaurants must uphold this same duty of care. Dram Shop laws impose legal liability onto owners of bars, restaurants, liquor stores, and any other establishments that sell alcoholic beverages and products to intoxicated customers. These laws are set to protect individuals from harming themselves or others as a result of over-indulging in alcohol. For instance, it is possible for a victim of a drunk driving accident to sue the establishment that sold the drunk driver the alcohol, but only if the driver was already intoxicated at the time of the sell.

Were you or a loved one seriously injured in an accident caused by a drunk driver? Contact the Law Office of Craven, Hoover, and Blazek P.C. at 317-881-2700 to schedule a free case evaluation with an experienced drunk driving accident lawyer in Indianapolis, Indiana. We represent all drunk driving cases throughout the state of Indiana, including car accidents, truck accidents, pedestrian accidents, motorcycle accidents, wrongful deaths, and more.

Related Posts:

Accident Liability for Hosting an Employee Party With Alcohol
How to Make an Injury Claim Against a Drunk Driver
State Regulations for Truck Drivers Regarding Drugs and Alcohol

Important Liability Laws for Hosting a Party With Alcohol

Personal Injury Lawyers 317-881-2700

Personal Injury Lawyers 317-881-2700

When it comes to your liability as a party host who serves alcohol to guests, the laws vary from state to state. Some states claim no liability, some claim liability, and some others do not even have laws that regard the subject at all. Indiana happens to be a state that does assign liability to social hosts.

If you let guests drink and drive after leaving your New Year’s Eve party, you could be liable for any damages or losses they caused to others on the road. If this is something you are concerned about, continue reading to learn how to be a responsible party host and how to protect yourself from being liable for drunk driving accidents.

Social Host Liability

The phrase, “social host liability” is a term that describes a person being held legally accountable for the actions of an intoxicated guest who became intoxicated by indulging in the alcoholic beverages served at their party. It is your duty as a party host to serve alcohol responsibly to guests. Not only is this for everyone’s safety, but it is also to avoid legal accountability. The most common scenarios are drunk driving and wrongful death accidents, but property damage, assault, and other incidents are known to occur as well.

If a guest at your party drinks too much alcohol, and then they leave and cause harm to another person or property, the victims of the accident can pursue a lawsuit against you since you provided the alcohol to the guest. This is actually very common. In fact, it is possible for party hosts to face criminal charges depending on the severity of the accident and subsequent losses experienced by the victims.

Laws Vary From State to State

As mentioned, some states have laws governing social host liability, while others do not. States that have laws regarding the subject either assign or absolve part hosts of liability, and some states do not even have laws pertaining to social host liability. For example, California and New York are “No Liability” states. This means party hosts are not responsible for the actions of their intoxicated guests, so long as they are adults, because these states do not put the blame on the furnishing of alcohol, but rather, the consumption.

States like New Jersey have specific social party host laws regarding intoxicated driving. They put liability on party hosts under certain circumstances, such as serving an already “visibly intoxicated” guest and more. Furthermore, states like North Carolina do not have any laws or ordinances that address social party host liability. However, victims of drunk driving accidents have been successful at pursing negligence lawsuits against hosts that over-serve guests and then allow them to drive.


In all 50 states, serving alcohol to a minor, whether knowingly or not, imposes all sorts of serious liability on a party host. Not only can a host be financially responsible for any damages, losses, or injuries caused by an intoxicated minor, they can also be criminally charged.

Dram Shop Laws

Even if a person hosts a party at a public location, most states have Dram Shop laws in order. These laws hold establishments that serve alcohol liable for the actions of their intoxicated patrons. However, the circumstances to which these liabilities apply are very specific and vary among states. If a patron is overserved and injures someone, the victim can pursue a lawsuit against the drunk driver and the establishment.

Indianapolis Personal Injury Law Firm

Personal Injury Lawyers 317-881-2700

Personal Injury Lawyers 317-881-2700

Call Craven, Hoover, and Blazek P.C. at 317-881-2700 for personal injury claims in Indianapolis, Indiana. We offer free initial consultations and never collect lawyer fees unless they win your claim. Call our office today to determine your eligibility for personal injury compensation.