Alcohol – Responsibilities And Liabilities


     This is not the first time I’ve weighed in on this subject. For several decades I taught dance and thought it was my obligation to dispel the following myth:

     “Slammin’ down a six-pack” doesn’t make you a better dancer; it just makes you think you’re a better dancer. Many have commented to me saying there is certainly nothing wrong with a couple of drinks during an evening of dancing if it is done in moderation.  I would agree with this, but just what actually is “moderation?”  If you are dancer and are wondering how many drinks are too many, you can simply follow the advice of Knute Rockne: “Drink the first.  Sip the second slowly.  Skip the third.”  …And who could ever argue with Notre Dame’s legendary coach?

More useful quotes:

     “I think a man ought to get drunk at least twice a year just on principle, so he won’t let himself get snotty about it.”  -Raymond Chandler 

     “If you drink, don’t drive.  Don’t even putt.”  -Dean Martin

     “Without question, the greatest invention in the history of mankind is beer.  Oh, I grant you that the wheel was also a fine invention, but the wheel does not go nearly as well with pizza.”  -Dave Barry

     “I tend to think of myself as a responsible drinker; however, if cut I would probably bleed cabernet sauvignon.” -Bob Miller 

     We can joke about this, but simply put drinking too much or too fast leads to loss of control and judgment. And just a note before we really get into this topic: I’m not a tea-totaler. I don’t want to appear to be preachy or judgmental. When, where, what, and how much you drink (if at all) is your business, and it’s certainly none of mine; however, if you are in my home, and I am your host, then it is my business.   

The Host’s Perspective and An Ounce of Prevention

Monitor your guests through the entire evening. Always remember their responsibility is your responsibility. More on this later. What appears below was taken from the site I have altered and paraphrased it a bit. To read the full article, click on the site.

 “The seven stages of inebriation, a vintage Australian primer in drunkenness:”

  • The guest is good. No one can tell. He/she is a social drinker. Sophisticated. Adult. The French and the Italians seem to be able to reside in this stage for long periods of time. Americans? As a general rule, are terrible drinkers.
  • This is it—the sweet spot. The guest is a little sloppy, but charmingly so. They’re funny, cute and less inhibited, but still have their wits about them.
  • The danger zone. This is where the host needs to start getting directly involved, because the guest is approaching the point of diminishing returns. They have begun to voice controversial opinions to a disinterested audience. They’ve become slightly angry at someone for reasons they will later fail to recall. They feel the need for brutal honesty. If you are dealing with a “mean” drunk, get them off the premises and on their way home.
  • They have now become or are becoming a danger to themselves and to others. .And don’t let them drive. A host’s responsibilities haven’t ended until the guest is again sober.
  • They get sick. And things get really messy.
  • They don’t remember this part at all. Their friends will later tell them later in detail of their bad behavior. They owe everyone an apology.

Tips For Hosts

If you’re hosting a party or celebration and you’re serving alcohol or have asked people to bring alcohol with them, here are some easy tips and ideas to make sure everyone has fun without drinking too much. These are the major headings in an article entitled as such. Click on “Tips For Hosts” to see the narrative under each section.

Organize, plan and prepare

Set your expectations in advance

Plan to do things other than eating and drinking

Provide substantial food

Serve more interesting non-alcoholic drinks

Provide water

If you’re serving spirits make them singles

Serve cocktails in a punch bowl

Offer lower strength alcoholic drinks

Only refill empty glasses

Don’t keep serving your guests until they are drunk

Watch your own drinking

Don’t host your party alone

Appoint or hire a bartender

Look after young people 

Supervise the kids

Push Play and play a game

Set an end time

Look after your guests

Think about your neighbors too

Social Host Alcohol Liability – When You’re Responsible

Unless you sell liquor for a living, you’re unlikely to be responsible for any injury caused by drunk employees under what are called “dram shop” laws. These laws generally only apply to commercial vendors of alcohol, such as bars, restaurants and package stores.

A drunk person can’t collect for injury to himself, but a third party injured by the actions of a drunk person can collect from a social host under certain circumstances. This is especially important when the drunk person has little or no insurance to cover a serious or fatal injury.

Laws vary widely by state, with some states not imposing any liability at all on social hosts. Other states limit responsibility of social hosts to injuries that occurs on the premises where the party is being held. Other states extend social hosts’ liability to injuries from traffic accidents involving the person to whom they served alcohol.

Most states impose liability on social hosts where:

  • Alcohol is served to a minor
  • The host was reckless in serving alcohol or should have recognized the extent of the guest’s intoxication and not served him or her more alcohol
  • Also considered is if a host is “reckless” in serving alcohol will always be a factual issue to be decided by a judge or jury.