Helping hints for a Social Host

December 21, 2014, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

Social Host party tips

When you put on a party at your home, you are referred to as the Social Host.  This is different than a bar owner or tavern owner, who is referred to as a commercial host.  The biggest distinction is obviously the latter is a commercial, for income enterprise.  However, while the Social Host is only intended to provide a venue for guest to enjoy some fellowship, there can still be some legal risks to the Host where a guest becomes intoxicated and injures themselves or others, either at host’s home or on the way to the impaired person’s home.  Whether the Social Host is found to be liable will depend to a large part on the fact circumstances of the particular incident.  Generally, where the Social Host is active in providing alcohol to the guests, then there is a greater potential for liability to be found against the Social Host following a serious incident.

Some examples of where you could be found liable are (this is not a complete list):

  1. You host an event and you provide alcohol to an obviously intoxicated guest who you know is going to be driving his/her car home;

  2. You organize an event in a rented hall but fail to take precautions in the service of alcohol to your guests;

  3. You organize a company event where alcohol is provided to your guests and your employees who become intoxicated and you continue to serve them;

  4. You allow your underage child to host a party at your home and you are aware that the underage children will be drinking alcohol, whether alcohol is provide or it’s a BYOB event.

As the Social Host, or homeowner where an underage event occurs, you must be somewhat aware of your guests’ alcohol intake.  The courts recognize there are limits on this “obligation”.  However, the more you are aware of guest who is intoxicated, the greater will be the expectation for you to have taken some steps to ensure the guest’s safety, or the safety of others that my come into contact or the path of your intoxicated guest.

The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health have provide the following steps to consider when you are a Social Host:

  1. Watch your own alcohol intake.Drink very moderately or perhaps not at all in order to maintain your awareness of your guests at the event and allow you to respond appropriately when necessary;

  2. Avoid an open bar, or limit/control what is available.If you are serving the alcohol this will allow you to better monitor the alcohol intake of your guests;

  3. Provide smaller glasses or serve in regular sized drinks;

  4. Avoid serving doubles or shooters.Don’t permit drinking games.Don’t rush to refill your guests glasses.Do not offer your guest “one for the road”.

  5. Offer low alcohol or non-alcoholic alternatives, such as water;

  6. Provide food during the event.Food will slow down the speed at which your body absorbs the alcohol.

  7. Serve alcohol after planned events.Alcohol can impair a person’s coordination which could increase the risk of injury.

  8. Have some plan in the event a guest is too drunk to drive.You may have to invite your guest to stay overnight.You may have to arrange for a cab ride for your guest.You should also be aware of any designated drivers and whether they are sober.You may even have to be prepared to call the police if an intoxicated guest is not cooperating.

  9. You may want to contact your property insurer to review you home insurance coverage.Ask your broker what is your liability coverage in the event that an accident occurs as a result of an intoxicated guest.

Posted under Car Accidents, Chronic Pain, Drunk Driving Accidents, Fractures, Pain and Suffering, Personal Injury

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Deutschmann Law serves South-Western Ontario with offices in Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Woodstock, Brantford, Stratford and Ayr. The law practice of Robert Deutschmann focuses almost exclusively in personal injury and disability insurance matters. For more information, please visit or call us toll-free at 1-866-414-4878.

The opinions expressed here, while intended to provide useful information, should not be interpreted as legal recommendations or advice.

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