The holidays are a time for giving, and a big gift you can provide is a safe and healthy holiday season for friends and family. This means confiscating keys or calling ride-sharing services for people who have had too many drinks at your home. Both Connecticut and Massachusetts have social host liability laws, meaning you could face legal responsibility for someone of any age who drank at your home and caused an accident.
By the Numbers: The Dangers of Drinking and Driving
Before we dive into liability, let’s take a look at the numbers. Drunk driving is a nationwide epidemic, especially during the winter holidays.
- Each day, an average of 29 people die from drunk driving crashes in the United States. That’s more than one every hour.
- Adults drink too much and drive about 121 million times per year—over 300,000 incidents of drinking and driving a day.
- Drunk driving is more prevalent during the holidays, resulting in hundreds of deaths each year.
Who Can Be Held Liable?
With this information, it’s important to know who can be held liable if the worst were to happen. Social host liability laws operate similarly to dram shop liability laws, but they target homeowners or property renters who provide alcohol to visitors if those guests go on to injure someone while intoxicated. Depending on how and where the situation occurred, social host liability can be based on negligence, recklessness or intentional conduct.
The legal concept of negligence is relatively straightforward:
- A party owes a duty of care
- The party breached that duty of care
- Someone incurred specific damages as a result of the breach
Under this stipulation the host would be held liable for almost any situation involving a crash, owing to the fact that they breached a duty of care by overserving their guest.
Recklessness is the concept of consciously disregarding a substantial risk leading to an unsafe situation. In this case, that would refer to a host who gave another alcoholic drink to a guest while knowing the guest has already had too much and would have to drive soon.
Contact us to learn more about the social liability laws in Massachusetts and Connecticut. We can help make sure you stay safe this holiday season and understand your rights and obligations as either a host or a guest.