Hosting a Party? Protect Yourself from DUI Injury Lawsuits

Key Points:

  • Under Georgia statutes, the host of a party can be held accountable for an accident if alcoholic beverages were served someone who is a minor or noticeably intoxicated and then allowed to get behind the wheel of a car.
  • As the host, you are protecting yourself, your guests, and everyone else on the road when you step in and keep intoxicated guests from driving.
  • There are several designated driver services in the Atlanta Metro Area, including BeMyDD, Designated Driver Alternative and Uber.

Knowing the effects of alcohol consumption combined with driving, and their probable consequences, planning to avoid them is one of the best ways to avoid potentially tragic consequences of drunk driving. We each have a role in preventing drunk driving; in fact, it is our obligation to curb the criminal act of drinking and driving. This responsibility rests heavily upon party hosts, as well.

Traffic Safety Facts: Alcohol-Impaired Driving

Every single DUI-related accident is a preventable one, yet many Americans fall prey to the reckless behavior of drunk drivers every day. Even though drunk-driving fatalities have fallen in recent years, more than 10,000 people are killed in drunk-driving-related crashes each year in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA. Twenty-nine people die each day—that’s one death every 59 minutes.

Georgia DUI Statistics

Georgia was ranked 23rd overall in the Nation for drunken driving rates in 2018, with 308.7 DUI-related arrests per 100,000 people. Statistics like these are sobering, as is information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the FBI’s crime reports for Georgia, which reflect the following:

  • The DUI arrest rate increased by 32.4 percent from 2014-2018.
  • From 2009 to 2018 the DUI arrest rate decreased by 12.8 percent.
  • Georgia’s DUI rate peaked in 2009 with 398.74 arrests for every 100,000 people.
  • Drivers in their 20s are most likely to be involved in fatal alcohol-related crashes.
  • Male drivers are twice as likely to be involved in a drinking-related crash.
  • The average offender is likely to drive under the influence about 80 times before actually getting caught.

Curbing Drunk Drivers is Everybody’s Job

It may seem people are recognizing they have a duty to drink responsibly when they go out to drink in a bar or restaurant. Nevertheless, wherever people gather—in the backyard in the summertime or with the entire family during holiday festivities—they often consume alcohol.

There is nothing wrong with celebrating festive holidays or special occasions with friends and family. Unfortunately, after eating and drinking the night away, sometimes people choose to drive once the celebration has ended. When we host a party, we must be mindful of the fact that curbing the drunk driving behaviors of our guests is a responsibility we must take seriously.

Whether you are hosting a New Year’s Eve party, a 4th of July bash, or a birthday gathering, there are some laws you need to know in order to keep your guests safe from harm and yourself protected from legal action. Celebrate that next promotion, graduation, or anniversary with well-deserved joy, but keep the following important fact in mind while you are doing it.

Social Host Liability Laws in Atlanta, GA

The laws that apply to drinking are known as Dram Shop and Social Host Liability Laws, and they hold people responsible for serving alcohol to already intoxicated guests or patrons. If a guest drives away from your house after drinking too much and causes an accident, you could be held accountable.

Under Georgia statutes, the host of a party can be held accountable for an accident if he or she supplied alcoholic beverages to someone who is a minor (under the age of 21) or noticeably intoxicated and will be getting behind the wheel of a motor vehicle [GA Code § 51-1-40 (2015)].

Though Dram Shop Laws are usually applied to bars and restaurants that continue to serve patrons long after they should have been cut off, they can also apply to people hosting a get-together. This means that a football game or backyard barbeque with your friends could leave you holding the legal bag for any injury done to others by your intoxicated friend. Georgia’s Dram Shop Act refers to the liability of “a person” so it can be applied to a party host as well as to a bar or restaurant.

This means, as host, it’s your legal responsibility to take care of the people at your party and monitor their drinking. Though it may not be fun, it’s necessary to prevent a serious drunk driving accident and to avoid a potential lawsuit after the fact.

These laws are designed to protect the public and to increase the responsibility of everyone involved in a night of drinking.

Tips to Protect Your Party Guests and Yourself

  • Provide games and activities for guests. Doing so makes it less likely that people will consume too much alcohol. Avoid games that focus on alcohol consumption, including quarters and movie-drinking games. Ask your friends beforehand what games they might like to play.
  • Snacks and/or a good-sized meal should be served to soak up the alcohol in people’s system. That should help keep party-goers from getting too tipsy.
  • Offer non-alcoholic alternatives, including soft drinks for designated drivers and those who might need to cool down after hitting the spirits. For those who’ve overindulged, make a mock-tail, a non-alcoholic drink that tastes just like what they’ve been drinking. Most of the time they won’t be able to tell the difference.
  • Never wait until the party ends to make driving arrangements. Confirm designated drivers before the party starts and talk with guests throughout the evening to make sure everyone is sticking with the arrangement.
  • If guests are to RSVP, you might even ask that a sober driver be designated on the card.
  • If you’re putting on a big party, check local taxi services in case plans for designated drivers fall through. In the worst situations, make someone who’s intoxicated spend the night.
  • Firmly let guests know as they arrive, or even beforehand, that no one will be driving home drunk. If you make this clear in advance, you can avoid a confrontation when it’s time for them to go home.
  • Consider collecting keys as they enter the door and only handing them back when they are ready to leave and if they are not intoxicated.

There is nothing some drunks love more than to tell you how capable they are of driving. However, they aren’t in a position to make that decision. As the host, you are protecting yourself, your guests, and everyone else on the road when you step in and keep them from driving.

The Best Advice – Don’t Let Them Drive Drunk

It would not occur to you—or your guests—to put a loaded gun in the hands of an intoxicated individual. Putting them in the driver’s seat of a car when they are drunk is every bit as deadly.

Fortunately, a number of businesses now operate almost solely to get intoxicated revelers home safely. You could call a cab and have your friends come back for their cars the next day, or you could contact any one of several designated driver services in the Atlanta Metro Area. Some of those include:

  • BeMyDD
  • Designated Driver Alternative
  • Uber

These services sometimes even offer the option of taking your guests home in their own vehicles, saving them the extra trip in the morning.

Until the day comes when everyone is properly dedicated to the prevention of drinking and driving, there will continue to be tragic, preventable accidents. If you or someone you care about has been injured or killed by a drunk driver, contact The Millar Law Firm. We have been advocating for innocent victims of drunk drivers for decades—allow us to help you, too.

We offer free initial consultations and do not charge attorney fees unless and until we obtain compensation for you. With many years of experience in helping victims of car accidents get the justice and the compensation they deserve, the team of attorneys at The Millar Law Firm can help you. Call today!

Have a Question?

Contact us with any questions you have and we’ll get back to you!