Make sure it is safe and that none of your guests drive home after drinking. Some states have “social host liability” laws, with specifics varying from state to state. “Social host liability” is the legal term for the criminal and civil responsibility of a person who provides liquor to a guest that then has an accident.
Here are five tips from the Insurance Information Institute and MADD to reduce your risk of being held liable for a mishap.
1. Encourage guests to recruit designated drivers.
Selecting a designated driver will allow a guest to enjoy the party knowing a sober person will take the guest home. “As a host, I would be asking when people RSVP and what their plans are for getting home with a sober driver,” Withers says. Also, encourage drivers and passengers to buckle their seat belts.
2. Offer food and non-alcoholic beverages.
Providing food and non-alcoholic drinks can help the designated driver enjoy the party and also counter the effects for guests who do drink alcohol. Food also keeps guests from consuming alcohol on an empty stomach. Also, toward the end of the evening, stop serving liquor and switch to soft drinks, coffee or tea.
3. Don’t drink too much as the host.
Limiting your alcohol consumption will enable you to be a responsible host and judge your guests’ sobriety. Part of being a responsible host also means not pressuring guests to drink or not immediately refilling empty glasses. If guests appear unable to drive home, arrange a ride with a sober guest, call a cab or offer a guest room or couch. “Be ready to step in if you see something that you are concerned about,” Withers says.
4. Hire a professional bartender.
Typically, a bartender is trained to recognize signs of intoxication and to not serve guests who are too tipsy. Also, avoid serving mixers, which mask the taste of alcohol and may cause people to drink more, MADD says.
5. FINAL TIP: Increase your liability coverage to the maximum for the day of the party. This will give you more protection in case of a slip and fall, food allergy, or any other accident at your home. Just call your insurance company and increase your limit.