A Rhode Island drunk driving injury lawyer discusses Social host liability for Christmas parties. The Christmas season is always a time for celebration, and often those celebrations are associated with Christmas parties sponsored by various groups. Employer Christmas parties are probably the most notable of these. Private Christmas parties fall under the same laws regarding liability as any other social host laws or dram shop laws. Sadly, some Christmas parties end badly when someone drinks too much and injures another motorist in a car accident.
Motorist who drink and drive are not the only ones who can be held liable for a RI drunk driving car accident. When someone attends a party is involved in an automobile accident following the party and someone is injured, the party host and or server could be held liable.
Social host liability in RI
Regardless of the seriousness of the injuries or intoxication level of a drunk driver, the individual or group hosting the party can be held liable as a co-defendant. An experienced RI personal injury and auto accident attorney can reasonably establish how much alcohol the tortfeasor consumed and whether the servers knowingly, recklessly or negligently served an obviously buzzed, intoxicated or wasted guest. In some instances, the primary defendant was actually consuming alcohol provided by the host, often with no bartender or oversight personnel.
“”Social host liability” is a legal concept that some states follow, allowing a host of a party or other gathering to be held liable in certain situations where a guest becomes intoxicated and ends up causing an injury to a third party. Social host liability is similar to dram shop laws. The difference is that a dram shop law imposes liability only on sellers of alcoholic beverages (like bars, liquor stores, and restaurants) whereas social host liability can be imposed on anyone who provides alcoholic beverages to guests or visitors, if that guest goes on to injure someone while intoxicated.” Nolo
§ 3-8-11.1. Furnishing or procurement of alcoholic beverages for underage persons.
(a) As used in this section: (1) “furnish” means to provide with, supply, give or purchase; (2) “procure” means to get possession of, obtain by particular care and effort; and (3) “permit” means to give permission for, or approval of, the possession or consumption of an alcoholic beverage by any form of conduct, that would cause a reasonable person to believe that permission or approval has been given.
(b) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (d) of this section it is unlawful for any person twenty-one (21) years of age or older:
(1) to purchase from any licensee or any employee of a licensee any alcoholic beverage for the sale, delivery, service of or giving away to, any person who has not reached his or her twenty-first (21st) birthday;
(2) to purchase from any licensee or any employee of any licensee any alcoholic beverage with the intent to cause or permit said alcoholic beverage to be sold, or given to any person who has not reached his or her twenty-first (21st) birthday;
(3) to knowingly furnish any alcoholic beverage for the sale, delivery, service of or giving to any person who has not reached his or her twenty-first (21st) birthday;
(4) to procure alcoholic beverages for the sale, delivery, service of or giving to any person who has not reached his or her twenty-first (21st) birthday; or
(5) to otherwise permit the consumption of alcohol by underaged persons in his or her residence or on his or her real property.
(c) Any person, between the ages of eighteen (18) and twenty-one (21) years of age, who violates subsection (b) herein, may, upon conviction, be subject to a civil penalty of not more than five hundred dollars ($500). In addition, any person convicted may be required to attend an educational program approved by the department of health designed to recognize the dangers of underaged drinking, and may be subject to up to thirty (30) hours of community service.
(d) This section does not apply to use, consumption or possession of alcoholic beverages by a minor for religious purposes; or to a parent or legal guardian procuring or furnishing alcohol to, or permitting the consumption of alcohol by, his or her minor child or ward.
(e) Any person who violates this section will be subject to the penalties provided in § 3-8-11.2.
History of Section.
(G.L. 1938, § 3-8-11.1; P.L. 1963, ch. 147, § 1; P.L. 1980, ch. 142, § 3; P.L. 1984, ch. 191, § 1; P.L. 2006, ch. 230, § 1; P.L. 2006, ch. 272, § 1; P.L. 2008, ch. 129, § 1; P.L. 2008, ch. 200, § 1; P.L. 2010, ch. 144, § 1.)
§ 3-8-11.2. Penalty for violation of § 3-8-11.1.
(a) Any person who violates § 3-8-11.1 and either pleads nolo contendere or is convicted of a first misdemeanor violation shall be punished by a fine of not less than three hundred fifty dollars ($350.00) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) and/or imprisoned for a period not exceeding six (6) months, or both.
(b) Any person who violates § 3-8-11.1 and either pleads nolo contendre or is convicted of a second misdemeanor violation shall be punished by a fine of not less than seven hundred fifty dollars ($750.00) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) and/or imprisoned for a period not exceeding one year, or both.
(c) Any person who violates § 3-8-11.1 and either pleads nolo contendre or is convicted of a third or subsequent violation shall be guilty of a felony and shall be punished by a fine not less than one thousand dollars ($1,000) nor more than two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) and/or imprisonment not exceeding three (3) years. Any person convicted of a second or subsequent offense under of this section shall not have any fine suspended.
History of Section.
(G.L. 1938, § 3-8-11.2; P.L. 1963, ch. 147, § 1; P.L. 1983, ch. 247, § 1; P.L. 1985, ch. 266, § 1; P.L. 1987, ch. 78, § 12; P.L. 1988, ch. 214, § 1; P.L. 2006, ch. 230, § 1; P.L. 2006, ch. 272, § 1; P.L. 2008, ch. 129, § 1; P.L. 2008, ch. 200, § 1.)
Private Individual Christmas Parties
While most “in house” Christmas parties are conducted reasonably and responsibly with respect to drinking and driving, there are also instances when illegal activity is involved. These irresponsible parties are also common for teens whose parents allow underage drinking in their home with no real chaperones in place. This means that a potential scenario for a serious accident is clearly in place, especially when a teen driver with little experience gets behind the wheel of a vehicle after consuming any amount of alcohol.
Underage drivers who are involved in an accident while drinking can be liable for damages of any inured victims. The adults who hold these parties are just as liable as business owners who serve alcohol. Often punitive damages or even criminal charges are a result of a Rhode Island car crash involving an underage driver who has been drinking at their home.
Restaurants and Bars
Many Christmas parties are also held in certain business establishments, country clubs, hotels, bars, taverns, VFW establishments and restaurants because of the services provided by these establishments. The liability laws that apply to restaurants and bars in the normal course of business still apply. The bars or establishments can be held responsible when an accident occurs following the party involving an attendee who drove their vehicle after consuming alcohol at the party.
Servers and Waitresses
Even the bartenders and waitresses at a Christmas party could potentially be liable as well as the party sponsors. Liability could attach if a server or bartender did not identify an intoxicated customer and continued to serve them despite the fact that they were drunk as a skunk. Forcing an intoxicated attendee or customer to leave the establishment can be problematic too, especially if they drive away from the venue.
Rhode Island personal injury lawyers
An experienced auto accident attorney in Rhode Island or a Providence car wreck lawyer will always investigation an accident injury case for all of those who may be responsible. RI social host liability accident attorneys will pinpoint any liable deep pocket tortfeasors and pursue necessary legal action. Anyone injured in an accident during the Christmas season should always consult with a a Rhode Island personal injury attorney or RI personal injury lawyer before beginning a claim.