What Party Hosts Need to Know

holiday drinking

How Pennsylvania's Social Host Laws Impact Your Holiday Party

A recent survey by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) found that 73% of adults 21 and older had "been at an event and witnessed someone try to drive home after drinking too much." During the year-end holidays, if you witness a similar situation at a holiday party that you are hosting—take action. You could not only save innocent lives but prevent yourself from substantial fines and possible jail time if underage drinkers are involved.

What is Pennsylvania's Social Host Law?

According to Pennsylvania law, if you have a party at your home and serve alcohol, you are a "social host." While your adult guests are responsible for their own behavior, this is not always the case with underage guests. If someone under the age of 21 is given alcohol at your party and then leaves intoxicated, you will likely be held responsible if they get behind the wheel and are involved in an accident.

In addition to civil liability (liability for money damages), any adult who serves alcohol to a minor can face criminal charges, fines, and jail time. Under Pennsylvania statutory law, providing alcohol to minors is a third degree misdemeanor:

  • For a party host, fines can quickly add up: a minimum of $1,000 for the first conviction and potentially up to $2,500 for every additional minor present at the party.
  • You could even face up to a year of jail time, depending on the seriousness of the injuries sustained in the car accident.

How to Keep Your Holiday Party Safe

  • Consult our Party Host Infographic to find 16 fun and festive tips for safe party hosting.
  • While mingling with party guests inquire about their plans for getting home—suggest a trusted designated driver, car service, or cab company if necessary.
  • Have non-alcoholic beverages, like holiday-themed mocktails, available to designated drivers and underage guests.
  • Sign and share our Holiday Safe & Sober Pledge. You'll be entered for a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card.

Enjoy the holiday season, but please do as much as possible to ensure the safety of your party guests.

Source: “Holiday parties, drinking, driving: A deadly mix.” USA Today. December 14, 2013.