GRADUATION CELEBRATIONS—LIABILITY FOR PROVIDING ALCOHOL TO MINORS

We just finished prom season.  Now we’re on to graduation.  I’ve been noticing a lot of beer bottles at the street end.  That makes me worried.  Even though this is a new generation and drinking and driving is a lot more socially taboo than in the past, it still happens.

When minors drink and drive both they and the people who serve them can be held responsible for the consequences.  There are some distinctions between social hosts (like parents hosting a party) and commercial establishments (a restaurant that serves alcohol).  Here’s the lay of the land:

A social host generally owes no duty to prevent overconsumption of alcohol by an adult guest.  But if a social host serves alcohol to a minor and the minor gets hurt, the social hook can be held responsible.

Liability is even broader for commercial establishments.  If they serve also alcohol to a minor they’re liable for both injuries to the minor and injuries the minor causes to someone else.

The best plan not to have alcohol at graduation parties.  If you do and there are minors, make sure the minors aren’t drinking.  If they do drink, make sure they have a safe way to get home.

Parents are going to be concerned and upset is an underage child gets into an accident.  While the child probably bears some of the responsibility, the person who supplied him alcohol should be held accountable too.

The last case we had involving an intoxicated minor resulted in a half a million dollar settlement for our injured client.

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