Attorney addresses liability laws for house parties - WNEM TV 5

Attorney addresses liability laws for house parties

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Bars and restaurants are being told by the state to serve alcohol responsibly on Super Bowl Sunday.

The day of the big game is a dangerous one on the roads with 43 percent of all traffic deaths caused by drunk driving. During a given year that figure averages 31 percent.

"It's always a big shot in the arm when you have something big going on in February because February is usually a slower time of year for us," said Jerry Crete, owner of Ideal Party Store in Bay City.

He said customers will be stocking up for Sunday's big game. While he welcomes the added revenue, Crete is aware there is a legal responsibility that comes along with liquor sales.

"We have to be aware of the people that we're selling to and make sure that they haven't had too much. It's not unusual for us to not serve somebody because they have had too much," Crete said.

Bars, restaurants and other establishments could be held liable if they serve too much alcohol to a patron. But what about those Super Bowl parties at residents' homes? Could a homeowner be in trouble for serving too much alcohol to one of their guests?

"As a social gathering host you typically are not held responsible if you are serving adults," said Brian Jean, defense attorney at the Gower Reddick Law Firm.

Jean said while homeowners aren't responsible for their fellow adult guests, the same can't be said for minors.

"We have under what's called common law, or case law, the ability to go after persons who are serving minors even at social gatherings," Jean said.

That's because it is against the law for minors to drink in any and all cases.

Jean said while homeowners may not be responsible for their adult guests now, that could change in the years to come.

"It may be moving toward where an adult could be in a position if they're drinking too much the social party host could be liable. But until the legislature acts on that it will remain as just a common law defense where people might try to do it, but likely be unsuccessful," Jean said.

As for Crete, he wants everyone to drink responsibly no matter where they celebrate the Super Bowl.

"Don't take the risk. It's not worth it," Crete said.

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