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Southern hospitality is one of the things we are known for here in the South. When you have a gathering, you make sure that everyone is comfortable and has plenty to eat and drink. But, do you always pay attention to the age of your guests or how much they are drinking?

Suppose you’re having a cookout and John and Mary also bring their 18-year old son or daughter. Then, before you know it, the child is having a beer – are you responsible for the young person’s actions while drinking even though the parents are there?

Many states have enacted laws holding party hosts liable for any alcohol-related injuries involving minors who drink adult beverages while in their homes. This includes injuries to the minor or any other person who may suffer the negative consequences of underage drinking.

As a host, it is your responsibility to ensure that any children in attendance are not drinking alcoholic beverages. You may be held liable if a minor drinks at your party, even though you did not serve the drink to the minor.

These laws impose a duty on party hosts (parents or any adult who is in charge) not to furnish or serve alcohol to minors. There is a distinction between furnishing and serving: furnishing means making alcohol available; to serve is to knowingly and intentionally deliver the alcohol.

Some state’s laws hold party hosts responsible for third-party injuries caused by an intoxicated guest who leaves your party and causes an accident. And in some cases, merely having the alcohol available where there are minors in attendance also makes you responsible for any accidents as a result of drinking and driving.

With the Spring and Summer party season in full swing, it pays to know your state’s laws, and not to serve alcohol to minors or to guests who have had a bit too much.

If you have legal questions, please consult our Online Legal Directory to find an attorney in your area.

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