It’s that time of year again when everyone is planning on hosting a summer party. Get the barbeque out of storage and clean up the yard – all in preparation for fun-filled summer of entertaining with family and friends.

When you host a party at your home, most of the planning focuses on ensuring there are enough food and beverages for everyone and the guests have a good time. It is fair to say, however; that one of the key elements to any party is the ever-present consumption of alcohol. Both you, as the host, and the guests contribute to the alcoholic refreshments, so there is generally always plenty to go around.

When planning on hosting a summer party, we don’t often consider where our legal obligation begins and ends when it comes to monitoring our guests’ alcoholic consumption levels.


Have you considered if one of your intoxicated guests leaves in a car and causes an accident? Are you responsible for taking the keys, calling a cab or offering a bed for the night? Who should be held liable and pay for catastrophic injuries and deaths resulting from your guest’s impaired driving?

A social host may be implicated in the creation of the risk to users of the road. This becomes more significant if the social host knows that an intoxicated guest is going to drive a car, and does not make reasonable efforts to prevent the guest from driving.

If you entertain frequently, consider talking with your broker about increasing your liability limits or adding a personal umbrella liability policy to your portfolio. There are steps you can take to help minimize the risk to you and your guests. Here are just a few of the things you can do that will be taken into consideration should something unplanned happen:

– Monitor the amount of alcohol distributed throughout the event
– Take away the keys from someone that has had too much to drink
– Arrange a cab ride for your guests
– Offer your guests a bed for the evening

If you’re planning a party this summer, remember the duty of a social host is to take reasonable steps to ensure your intoxicated guests do not drive upon departure from your home. Their safety and the safety of others is also your responsibility.