Throwing a Holiday Party? Here’s What You Need to Know About Social Host Liability

Social Host Liability: A Guide to Holiday Hosting

‘Tis the season for holiday cheer! But it’s also the season for alcohol consumption, social gatherings, and potential dangers.

If you’re hosting a holiday gathering or dinner, you are responsible under social host liability.

There’s nothing wrong with getting together with friends and enjoying the season. But there’s a degree of responsibility you need to take to keep people safe.

You want your guests to have a good time. But you also want them to get home safe and protect others on the road.

Here’s a quick guide with everything you need to know about social host liability. We want you to have a happy, fun holiday without worrying about accidents or injuries.

What is social host liability.

What is Social Host Liability, Anyway?

Social host liability is an Ontario law that holds someone responsible as a social host of any party on their property.

A “social host” falls under the following three categories:

  1. Anyone who is not selling or providing alcohol for profit.
  2. Anyone who has a unique, or non-employer relationship with their guests.
  3. Anyone serving or condoning alcohol on a premises over which they have control.

Regardless of whether the party is bring your own beverage (BYOB), or the host is providing the alcohol, you’re responsible. In fact, sometimes a BYOB party means that the host has more of a responsibility to monitor the alcohol consumption of their guests.

 How to prevent drunk driving

Types of Social Host Liability

There are a few different social host liability charges you could face when you host a party.

Firstly, there’s liability as a server. This applies to anyone who has served people to the point of intoxication. There’s nothing wrong with providing alcohol to your guests. The problem comes when you over-serve your guests.

It’s time to cut people off when you know that they’re reaching the point of intoxication. If you don’t, and they can prove you were aware of any intoxication and didn’t stop it, that’s when you can be held liable.

You could also be held liable as a sponsor of potentially dangerous activities. For example, if someone leaves your house drunk and you know they’re driving, you’re liable for stopping them. Otherwise, you’re sponsoring their drunk driving.

The same goes for any other drunken, destructive behaviour you catch your guest doing. Anything you witness someone doing that might end in injury is your responsibility to stop.

There is also premises liability. You, as the homeowner or occupier, are liable for anything that happens on your property.

Even if you don’t provide alcohol at your event, you can still be held liable for any accidents, injuries, or mishaps that happen on your property. It’s your job to make sure that there are no hazards or preventable situations under your watch.

What is the liability of a party host?

How to Host a Party Responsibly

Any time you have people over to your home, you are responsible for making sure they get home safe. Part of that responsibility means preventing people from drinking and driving.

Make sure you serve non-alcoholic options. Always have water on hand and readily available.

If any of your guests are being designated drivers for the night, they should have something to drink that isn’t alcoholic. Don’t make them suffer for being responsible.

You also need to make sure you serve food. But make sure the food isn’t too salty, and is high in fat or protein. Salt will just make people more thirsty.

Consider an estimated time when you think your guests will probably start leaving. An hour before that, serve coffee and tea.

It’s also a good idea to limit your own drinking so you can monitor your guests. Serve the drinks yourself as much as you can, and avoid self-serve options.

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How to Prevent Drunk Driving

Your goal as a host is to prevent drunk driving and make sure no one leaves your house behind the wheel unless they are a designated driver.

The more people you invite, the harder it gets to keep track of how much everyone’s drinking. Here are some tips to make sure you keep your guests safe.

  • Make sure you have taxi phone numbers or a designated driving service like Keys to Us on hand.
  • Take away car keys.
  • Offer a reward or an incentive to designated drivers.
  • Offer to have guests spend the night.

Sometimes people who are drunk might try to convince you they’re fine to drive. Don’t believe them. If it helps, designate a friend to help you stop people from driving.

It’s your responsibility to stand your ground and prevent drunk driving. They’ll thank you when they’re sober.

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Tips for Staying Safe When Attending a Holiday Party

Indulging in the holidays is part of what makes this a merry, cheerful time of year. As a guest, you need to be prepared to make responsible decisions to avoid drunk driving.

Always have a designated driver available, or some cash on hand for a cab. Uber is also available in many major cities.

You can also arrange to have someone pick you up. In many cases, friends and family members would rather go get you than have you take a risk.

Consider volunteering to be a designated driver. Chances are, this isn’t the only party you’ll be attending over the holiday season. Why not just sit this one out for drinking and focus on keeping others safe?


Conte & Associates Can Help You File a Claim

When you’re hosting an event this holiday season, make sure you’ve covered all the options.

In the event that you need to file a claim against someone else for neglecting to fulfill their social host duties, contact Conte & Associates right away. Our expert staff of professionals are ready to jump in and fight for you.

We work with the top experts in Ontario to get you the best defence. You shouldn’t have to suffer because of someone else’s mistake.

Contact Conte & Associates today for a free consultation. We’ll get you the peace of mind you need to help heal.


Top personal injury lawyer in GTA area.

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