Hosting a holiday party is a great way to show your appreciation for your friends, family, co-workers, and employees. Whether you’re throwing a holiday party, a New Year’s Eve party, or a summer cookout, it’s important to be familiar with Oregon’s social host liability law in order to help keep your guests safe and avoid any future litigation. Here’s what you need to know about how to be a responsible party host.

What is Social Host Law?

Social host laws are laws that hold party hosts liable for alcohol-related injuries, accidents, and deaths.

Which States Have Social Host Laws?

There are currently eighteen states with social host laws that apply generally, which means if a person of any age hurts someone or damages property after getting intoxicated at your house, you could be held liable under the social host liability law. States with this general law include Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Washington and Wisconsin.

Other states have social host laws that apply only to minors, meaning that if an underage person hurts someone or damages property after getting intoxicated at your house, you could be held liable under the state’s social host liability law. These minor-centric social host laws are currently enforced in Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Utah and Wyoming.

How to Host a Party with Alcohol Responsibly

Whether you’re throwing a New Year’s Eve party, a holiday party, a summer cookout, or a birthday party, you’ll want to figure out how to host a party with alcohol in a way that is both responsible and enjoyable.

Party Safety Tip #1: Serve Plenty of Food

Wondering how to have a safe party while still serving alcohol? Food can help counter the effects of alcohol, so having a wide variety of food options available can help prevent people from becoming too intoxicated. Even if you aren’t serving dinner, be sure to have plenty of snacking options available throughout the entire party, especially once things are winding down for the night. In addition to having food available, it’s important to have enticing and easily accessible non-alcoholic beverages around.

Party Safety Tip #2: Have a Plan for Deterring Excessive Drinking

Because people tend to drink more when they can serve themselves, having a designated person mixing drinks can help prevent people from drinking to excess. If you’re paying someone to serve drinks, you can also set limits for how many drinks people can be served, especially if you’re serving drinks like long island iced teas, which have a very high alcohol content. Above all, be sure that you don’t serve alcohol to anyone who is visibly intoxicated or anyone underage.

Party Safety Tip #3: Know the Signs of Intoxication

While not everyone displays the signs of intoxication in exactly the same way, there are certain cues to be on the lookout for if you’re serving alcohol at a party. Here are some of the most common signs of intoxication:

  • Bloodshot, glassy eyes
  • Flushed face and disheveled clothing
  • Loud or slurred speech
  • Rambling or not making sense
  • Aggressive, argumentative, or inappropriate behavior
  • Swaying, staggering, or stumbling
  • Spilling drinks
  • Excessive sweating
  • Smelling strongly like alcohol

Party Safety Tip #4: Offer Transportation Options

One of the best ways to prevent social host liability is by making sure there are alternative transportation options available for your party guests. If you can’t provide designated drivers, consider throwing the party at a location with ample public transportation. If you’re throwing a holiday office party, consider providing your employees with Uber or Lyft credits so it’s easy and convenient for them to get home safely.

Looking for additional alcohol safety tips? Check out the Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s responsible party host tips. If you’re looking for a personal injury or negligence lawyer in Portland, we can help! Contact Paul Galm Law today or visit our office in Beaverton for personalized and compassionate assistance in your social host liability case.