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Social Host Responsibility: What You Need To Know

Video Transcription

Happy New Year 2016-2017, but before you pop the champagne, we’ve got some important information for you to know.

So you’ve got the kids in for the holidays and you’re gonna have a big party. And what do you normally have with a big party? You serve alcohol. So what does that mean to you as a homeowner? First, and this is really important, if you serve someone who’s under the age, the lawful age to drink in Arizona, which is 21, so if you serve someone who’s under 21 years of age and they go out and they hurt someone, you as the person who served it to them, you as the homeowner can be responsible. So in the worst of all scenarios, if they go out and cause a bad accident and kill someone or severely injure someone, you’re on the hook.

So message number one is don’t serve anyone in your home alcohol, who’s under the lawful drinking age. So don’t serve anyone who’s under 21 years of age. Don’t have your kids’ friends over and think that because they’re in your home, they’re somehow safer. Because if they do go out on the road and get involved in an accident or otherwise injure someone, that can come back to you, pursuant to Arizona law.

Also to keep in mind, Arizona has social host immunity. So what does that mean? That means if you’re not a bar or a tavern, and you have some folks over over the holidays for a party and there’s alcohol that is served, based upon Arizona law, if one of those individuals drinks too much and then goes and leaves your house and is involved in an accident, actually, it’s hard to impose liability on you as the owner of the home. Arizona law says that unless you’re a licensee, unless you have a license to sell alcohol, you can’t be found responsible. That doesn’t mean, though, you abdicate your responsibility, your social responsibilities, to make sure people are safe.

So what we recommend, and our team recommends, is that you still use common sense. So if someone’s coming over, and you’re having a party and you’re serving alcohol, we recommend you monitor people. You don’t serve them when they’ve had too much to drink. You shut down the service of alcohol an hour or two before the party concludes. Make food available, and at least for me personally, I think a big deal is have taxis available, Uber available.

We recently had a group party for our colleagues, and what we did is said, “If you’re gonna drink,” if both people who are coming, if it’s a couple, are gonna be drinking, “Take an Uber on us.” Take Uber to the party and then Uber from the party, and that way, there’s not gonna be any issues. So that’s something that’s strongly recommended.

I was at a party this weekend and they actually had bartenders there. So by having bartenders there, you have people who are trained to be aware of the effects of someone who’s consuming too much alcohol and can cut them off. That’s another way of just being socially responsible, making sure that people aren’t drinking too much, making sure they have an option if they do consume too much alcohol. You can have some extra cots or air mattresses in your house and recommend to people who’ve had too much to consume that they stay over, and then they can drive home the following day.

One of the messages that is pretty important, based upon Arizona law, if you decide to get involved, so someone’s consumed too much alcohol, and you take their keys away, you forwardly take their keys away because you don’t want’em driving, don’t let them get those keys back. Because then somehow, now, you could be involved in the chain of events, such that if they do go out, they get their key back, they go out and they get involved in an accident because you served too much alcohol to them, or at your home, they consumed too much alcohol even if you didn’t serve it to them. So they go out and injure someone. You first took their keys, but now, they got their keys back, that may be a way to kinda get around the immunity that you otherwise would have pursuant to Arizona law.

So had you not taken their keys away in the first instance, had they gone out and got in an accident, there may not be a way, under Arizona law, someone could sue you for that. But by going and interfering with the situation, by taking the keys away and then allowing the keys to make their way back to the individual, now, there may be an opportunity for you to be found responsible. So be careful. The message there is if you take someone’s keys away, keep’em and make sure they get home safely by a taxi, Uber, or they sleep over at your place.

Great to see the kids for the holidays, right? They’re coming home from college and they’re staying with you. All is good in the world. And they’re not home for yet a day and your son is asking you for the car keys. He’s gotta make a quick errand. And unbeknownst to you, he goes out and gets involved in an accident. It’s his fault, and he hurts someone. Guess what? You, according to Arizona law, parent, can be on the hook for that. So how does that work? It’s called the Family Purpose Doctrine.

If you’re the head of the household and you provide household-related vehicle to your child who could be 22, 23 years old even, for a family purpose…and that is defined in Arizona very broadly. So they could be going out and getting dinner for themselves, and that can be seen by the courts as a family purpose, and if they’re involved in an accident, under the Family Purpose Doctrine, it can come back to you, and you’re responsible.

So you have to be really careful if you have family coming into town or children coming into town over the holidays and you’re providing them with your vehicle to drive. You need to make sure that you have adequate insurance. Probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to call your insurance company and make sure if others are driving it, they’re covered. Typically, they are. They’re a permissive user of the vehicle so typically, they would be covered. But you wanna make sure there’s coverage to you under the Family Purpose Doctrine if they’re involved in an accident. Because not only are they responsible, you are, also.

From the Lamber Goodnow team, have a safe and a happy 2017. Make sure to use your head, and if anything happens, and we hope nothing happens, we’re here. Let us know. If you enjoyed this video, if it was helpful to you, give us the thumbs up and subscribe.
 

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