The Super Bowl is arguably the biggest annual sporting event in the U.S. every year. With a rich and long history — the Super Bowl first took place in 1967 in Los Angeles — it is more than just a game. It is a cultural event.
Super Bowl 50 — the big one! — will take place on February 7, 2016. While the event is sure to be one that brings friends and family together across New Jersey and the rest of the country, it may also create certain risks.
If alcohol is served at a Super Bowl party to guests, it can create the danger of guests driving away while intoxicated and causing drunk driving accidents.
As a law firm that is passionate about preventing drunk driving accidents in our state, we encourage you to think about your duties if you are planning on hosting a Super Bowl party this year. In particular, you should understand the concept of “SOCIAL HOST LIABILITY.”
What Is Social Host Liability in New Jersey?
First, it is important to define what a “social host” is under New Jersey law. As the NJ.com “Legal Corner” describes, a social host is “any person who by expressed or implied invitation invites another person into their home and who legally provides alcohol beverages to their social guest.” In other words, if you host a party and serve alcohol to your party’s attendees, you are a social host.
Social host liability, then, refers to your own liability if one of your guests is implicated in a drunk driving collision. If your guest was visibly intoxicated, or/and you should have known of the guest’s intoxication, and you continued to serve the guest alcohol regardless, you could be held liable if the guest then causes an accident.
For this reason — not to mention the fact that drinking and driving is incredibly dangerous — it is essential that you do not over-serve any guests who are attending your Super Bowl party. If you do, then you may be liable for their actions if an accident does occur.
Understanding Dram Shop Liability in New Jersey
Although the two terms are often confused, social host liability and dram shop liability in New Jersey are not the same. Social host liability – as explained above –refers to the liability of a private host at a private residence or business. Dram shop liability, on the other hand, refers to the liability of restaurants or bars who over-serve customers.
If you host the party at your own home, and a guest is over-served by you, drives away and causes an accident, you may be held liable as a direct result.
On the other hand, if you host your Super Bowl party at a restaurant or bar, and a guest of yours is over-served by the restaurant or bar, drives away and causes a crash, it will be the restaurant or bar that could be held liable.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, dram shop laws in New Jersey also apply when a restaurant or bars serves alcohol to an individual who is clearly under 21 years of age.
Tips for Safely Hosting a Super Bowl Party
When hosting a Super Bowl party, there are a few things that you can do to help you guests have a fun, yet safe, time. These include:
Provide non-alcoholic beverages.
It is important that you offer some non-alcoholic beverage options to your guests. For guests who will be driving, refraining from drinking is especially important.
Do not serve alcohol to minors.
You may think that because you are within your own home, serving alcohol to minors is okay. However, serving alcohol to minors is illegal and dangerous. It can have legal implications if that minor later drinks and drives.
Take away intoxicated guests’ keys.
If anyone in your home has had too much to drink and attempts to drive home, do the smart thing: Take away that driver’s keys. Calling a cab, ride share or sober friend or family member who can safely take the guest home is always the best decision.
Encourage guests to have a safe driving plan.
Remind your guests before they arrive at your house that if they plan to be drinking, you expect them to have a safe and sober ride home. Be prepared to cut off guests from alcohol if they plan to drive themselves home.
Commit to safe and sober driving yourself.
If you will be driving after your Super Bowl party, make sure to protect yourself, your family and others on the road by taking the pledge to drive sober – no matter the circumstances. If you have had a drink, then driving would be an unsafe action. Resist the urge to get behind the wheel!
Why You Need an Attorney after a Drunk Driving Accident
Unfortunately, not all Super Bowl party hosts, including individuals, bars and restaurants, are always responsible. They fail to take their duties seriously and allow intoxicated guests, which they have served, to get on the road after the game ends. As a result, drunk driving accidents can readily happen.
If you have been injured by a drunk driver or lost a loved one in a drunk driving accident, you will want an attorney by your side that is passionate about protecting your rights and will seek to hold all at-fault parties responsible for the harm you have suffered, including a negligent host.
At the law offices of Davis, Saperstein & Salomon, P.C., we take drunk driving accidents seriously. One of our law firm’s partners, attorney Steven Benvenisti, was once severely injured by a drunk driver as a young man. Today, he is leading voice in efforts to prevent drunk driving crashes in our state and across the country.
Our experienced drunk driving accident lawyers can get to work on your case as soon as possible. You can request a free case review by calling our firm directly or using our online form.