What does Drinking  and news have to do with your Charlotte Personal Injury Attorney?

This spring, as parents, our thoughts are on senior proms, and graduation. We are all filled up with a myriad of mixed emotions about our children growing up and becoming independent. However, there is one thing we must remain clear about. Parties and alcohol use. Every year we hear of teens or young adults who are killed and seriously injured in alcohol related crashes. We also hear of innocent travelers who are killed and injured in crashes caused by impaired driving.One thing about prom parties, and graduation parties, is that everyone who has any business being there is under age. None can purchase alcoholic beverages legally, but some always seem to come up with it. As parents and party hosts, this presents a special situation we need to think about.

In North Carolina, the host of a party can be held responsible if a guest becomes impaired at the party and then causes an automobile accident. I am reminded of the case of Hart v Ivey, in which The Olive Law Firm helped to establish this very liability on behalf of an innocent victim of just such a crash. You can read that case here: Hart v Ivey.

Under North Carolina law, social hosts have a duty to travelers of public highways not to serve alcohol to an intoxicated person who is known or believed to be driving. “Serving” can be interpreted quite broadly because this duty is to take reasonable care with respect to the consumption of alcohol. We know the propensity of young adults to experiment with alcohol, and we know they are adept at finding or bringing it even if, as hosts, we are not providing it ourselves. If your own stock of adult beverages is not secure, or if you do not monitor what guests bring with them, then depending on the circumstances, you may be found by a court to have failed in your duty of reasonable care toward travelers on the highways.

Here are some ideas to help you host a safe and sober prom or graduation party.

  1. Make sure your own stock of adult beverages is locked in a secure cabinet or removed from the house.
  2. Serve foods that are filling that can slow the absorption of alcohol.
  3. Don’t go to bed and leave young adult partiers to their own devices. Your presence will go a long way toward limiting guests from slipping drinks.
  4. If someone appears impaired, don’t allow them to leave until they have had an opportunity to sober up or find someone to drive them. It isn’t the end of the world if they have to come back tomorrow to get their car. It could be the end of their world if they cause an accident.
  5. Talk to your insurance agent about your coverages. Many homeowners’ policies cover your liabilities as a party host. Make sure that your coverage is adequate before the party, not after an accident has happened.
  6. Have a candid conversation with your young adult about the duties of hosting a party and the potential liabilities involved.
  7. Everyone wants to unwind and have fun at prom or graduation parties. With a little planning and thought, you can also help your young adult host a safe party as well.


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