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Published on Nov 21, 2011 by Edgar Snyder

Social Host Law: Serving Alcohol at Your Holiday Party Could Mean Jail Time

Pennsylvania social host laws

The winter holidays mean lots of parties. These celebrations usually involve alcohol, and just like restaurants and bars, party hosts are responsible for who consumes these beverages.

According to Pennsylvania's social host law, adults are responsible for their own drinking. But, if an underage guest drinks alcohol at a party and is then involved in a car accident, the host of the party can be held responsible for the minor's accident and any resulting injuries.

Social hosts can face both criminal and civil charges. In criminal cases, penalties range from fines to jail time, depending on the seriousness of the accident. In civil matters, the injured minor can sue the host.

The following circumstances must be present in order for a social host to be liable for the injury and damage caused by an intoxicated underage guest:

  • The host was aware, or should have been aware, that the guest who caused the injury/damage was drunk.
  • The host knew that the guest who caused the injury/damage would be driving after they left the party.

While most individuals know that serving alcohol to a minor is illegal, hosts have a moral obligation to make sure none of their guests drink and drive. Social host laws have proven to be effective, but a party host is the first line of defense against underage drinking and subsequent drunk driving.

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