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Published on Jun 06, 2012 by Edgar Snyder

Hosting a Graduation Party? Think Twice Before Serving Alcohol

social host graduation

If you plan to host a graduation party for your high school senior and provide alcohol, think again. As one local mother learned the hard way, this is never a good idea. Not only does it put the teens' safety at risk, but it could land you in jail.

It was two years ago that a Westmoreland County mother decided to supply alcohol for her son's graduation party. As a result, three teenagers who drank at the party lost their lives in a devastating drunk driving accident after leaving the house. Because of her actions, she faces criminal punishment including jail time and thousands of dollars in fines. Additionally, she could also face civil penalties from the victims and their families.

Pennsylvania's social host law states that adults are responsible for their own behavior. 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 if:

  • 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 leaving the party.

Never offer alcohol to minors or make it available to them. If you serve alcohol to adults this summer, follow these tips to help keep everyone safe:

  • Monitor your minors. Keep an especially close eye on your guests who are under age 21 to make sure they are sneaking any alcohol. You could also hire a bartender experienced in screening underage drinkers to prevent them from being served.
  • Offer nonalcoholic drinks. Provide plenty alternatives like soda, juice, water, or coffee.
  • Stop serving early. Put away the alcoholic beverages a few hours before your party is supposed to end and serve nonalcoholic beverages instead.
  • Know who you invite. Limit your guests to people you know and those who act responsibly when they drink.
  • Designate a driver. Pick a designated driver or drivers before the party starts
  • Call a cab. Keep a list of local cab services and their numbers handy for guests who shouldn't drive.

Graduation is a time to celebrate, but poor choices can lead to tragedies. As you celebrate this milestone with your teens, please remember to be safe.

Congratulations to the Class of 2012!

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