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Wednesday
Jan282015

California Social Host Laws: Be Responsible; Beware Liability

Wrongful Death Attorney

 

 

by Andrew L. Shapiro

(818) 907-3230

 

Forget the drama, trash talk and player scandals that may have occurred this past year. The final football matchup of the season is coming, and there's a bigger issue at stake for those planning on throwing parties this weekend – that of social responsibility and liability.

Wrongful Death Liability

Last year, the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously that party hosts may be held legally liable when an underage drinker causes harm to others. The ruling came in favor of a family of a college student who was killed by an underage drunken driver. The hostess of the party (who was underage herself) charged her guests $3-5 admission to help fund the party. The court said this cover charge essentially turned the party into a "pop-up nightclub", and thus made the hostess liable, as she sold alcohol to a minor.

Upon hearing the defense's arguments, the Court said among other things, that "a social host can retain her immunity by simply refraining from charging any of her invited guests."

As of 1978 the state legislature decided that liability for the death or injury of someone hurt or killed by a drunk driver falls on the driver, rather than on the private individual who provided the driver with alcohol, since most private parties have open bars where the guests serve themselves. But the law changed in 2011, with a new caveat: a host who knowingly serves alcohol to a minor, can now be held liable.

California Civil Code §1714(d) states:

(1) Nothing in subdivision (c) shall preclude a claim against a parent, guardian, or another adult who knowingly furnishes alcoholic beverages at his or her residence to a person whom he or she knows, or should have known, to be under 21 years of age, in which case, notwithstanding subdivision (b), the furnishing of the alcoholic beverage may be found to be the proximate cause of resulting injuries or death.

 (2) A claim under this subdivision may be brought by, or on behalf of, the person under 21 years of age or by a person who was harmed by the person under 21 years of age.

California Social Host Laws and Overindulging Adults

Though the laws for dram shops (businesses that sell alcohol) and social hosts generally protect those serving alcohol from liability, the vendor or host can still be held liable for serving a minor, as stated in Civil Code §1714(d) above; and may be found guilty of a misdemeanor, for serving "habitual or common drunkards" under Business and Professions Code §25602.

Even though over-serving drunkards may only constitute a misdemeanor, there's still the question of social responsibility. Just remember this rule of thumb for your Super Bowl party: more food, less alcohol, no charge…and never give alcohol to a minor.

Andrew L. Shapiro is the Chair of our Personal Injury Practice Group. Contact him by phone: (818) 907-3230, or by email: ashapiro@lewitthackman.com.

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Tuesday
Aug302011

Underage Drinking | Social Host Law & Responsibility in California

Injury Attorney Los AngelesLos Angeles Injury Lawyer 

 

by David B. Bobrosky
(818) 907-3254

 

In 2011 the California legislature amended Civil Code Section 1714(d) to allow claims “against a parent, guardian, or another adult who knowingly furnishes alcoholic beverages at his or her residence to a person under 21 years of age.”

Parents know teenagers are going to have get-togethers or parties. Having said that, most parents would rather have the kids at their house so they can keep an eye on their own child. I know that’s how we feel. Some parents, however, also feel it’s acceptable to provide alcohol to minors as long as they remain under adult supervision.

According to the law above, if they do, and the minor leaves their house and causes an accident, the host of the party can be held responsible.

A number of states have variations of this law. The laws are commonly known as “Social Host Laws.” This amendment is a major change to California law, which for many years specifically held that there is no social host responsibility. As to adults over 21, the law did not change, and generally, there is no social host responsibility.

California’s Zero Tolerance Law

Keep in mind that California also has a Zero Tolerance Policy as to drivers under 21 having alcohol in their system.

Most people know that it is against the law for a driver’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level to be .08% or greater.

Many people, however, do not know that if you are under 21, it is against the law to have a BAC level of just .01% or greater.

If you are found to have violated the Zero Tolerance Law, at a minimum, your license will be suspended for a year.

So for the next teenager party at your house, make sure there is no alcohol. Not only is it a crime to furnish alcohol to a minor, you may also find yourself on the other end of a civil lawsuit. And the minor will be in a worse situation.

David B. Bobrosky is a Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney and safe driving proponent. You can reach him at: 818.990.2120.

 

 
Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

 

 

LEWITT HACKMAN | 16633 Ventura Boulevard, Eleventh Floor, Encino, California 91436-1865 | 818.990.2120