Being a good host means protecting your guests, yourself and others, as well as having a good time. With some common sense and planning you can also reduce your alcohol-related liability and risk of being sued.
Do not combine alcohol with potentially dangerous activities, such as boating, snowmobiling, skiing, or swimming. If this is not possible, try to ensure that alcohol is available only after the physical activities are completed.
Check the premises for potential hazards. Since drinking affects judgement, balance and coordination, a normally safe condition may endanger intoxicated guests. Locking away fragile objects, the gate to the pool etc. can significantly reduce your risks.
If there have been previous problems with a particular guest or event, take steps to prevent a recurrence.
Have a plan in advance to ensure that guests who become intoxicated can be taken home safely or spend the night.
Don’t make drinking the focus of your party, choose a theme, or organize activities etc.
Strongly discourage drinking games.
Keep food and non-alcoholic beverages available throughout the night. Eating and drinking water before, during and after drinking alcohol will not only help guests stay sober, but help stave off hangovers that result when too much alcohol dehydrates your body.
Never push drink on anyone.
Do not encourage intoxication by serving doubles or extra strong drinks.
Have someone mixing measured drinks so the individual drinks are not too strong. A self-service bar may encourage heavy consumption and make it more difficult for you to keep track of your guests.
Stop serving alcohol at least an hour before you expect the party to break up. It is simply not smart to serve people alcohol immediately before they drive or otherwise try to get home.
Be attentive to your guest’s and their behaviour and appearance. It is important to recognize when a guest has had too much. Some people may be significantly impaired and at risk well before they appear drunk.
Do not serve alcohol to a guest, who is already intoxicated, it only increases the risk of mishap and your chances of being sued.
Never let someone drive when intoxicated or ride with an impaired driver. Call a cab, give them a rise if you are sober or let them spend the night.
Remember that intoxicated guests may be at considerable risk, even if they are not driving.
A Legal Perspective
Providers of Alcohol:
Have a duty to care for intoxicated guests, that is, they are to prevent harm to those in their care and the people around them.
Must nitify police when they believe an intoxicated person will drive.
Are responsible for any and all activities on the premises. If an activity is potentially dangerous, it is their responsibility to take the appropriate steps to prevent it.
Can be found negligent in a court of law in the following ways:
Encouraging/inducing guests to be intoxicated
Providing alcohol in quantities that cause or increase intoxication
Failing to take steps to limit consumption of alcohol or not monitoring guests and their activities
Failing to protect intoxicated guests or those they are in contact with, and preventing them from participating in potentially dangerous/illegal activities