Social Host Liability: Serving Alcohol to Visitors in Your Home

Social Host Liability - Serving Alcohol

Whether it is the holidays, someone’s birthday or you just want to get together with all your friends, social gatherings happen all the time. While fun, when you are the host of the event, it often comes with a little bit of stress. There’s prep work involved with hosting a party, including cleaning, cooking, and providing beverages, which in some cases include alcohol. While it is perfectly legal to serve alcohol to of-age adults at a party in your home; before you do, you should make sure you understand laws pertaining to social host liability, and what you need to know about serving alcohol to visitors in your home.

Social Host Liability vs. Dram Shop Laws

Like social host liability, Sinas Dramis provides helpful information about Michigan dram shop law, and the general differences are easy to understand. Dram shop law generally refers to the liability of a retail licensee, that is, someone licensed by the state to serve or sell alcohol. Social host liability generally refers to those situations where someone is hosting someone else at their house and providing them with alcohol. In Michigan, there are specific state statutes that pertain to retail licensees and separate statutes and applicable common law principles that apply to social hosts.

Underage Drinking and Social Host Liability

Michigan social host liability laws deal with situations when alcohol is being consumed by those under 21 in someone else’s home. When this happens, and unfortunately it does happen, there are a couple of things to consider about the Michigan Liquor Control Code of 1998 and to understand the law.

Criminal Penalties

  • It is a misdemeanor crime for a homeowner to knowingly allow a minor to consume alcohol on their premises. This is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a monetary fine.
  • If someone is furnishing alcohol to a minor in their home, meaning they are providing and giving it to the minor, they can be punished for up to get up to 60 days in jail and a more significant fine.
  • In unfortunate circumstances where someone has furnished alcohol for a minor, and that alcohol consumption is a direct and substantial cause of the minor’s death, then the person can be charged with a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine.

Civil Liability Potential for a Social Host

Additionally, it is important to understand that a social host could be subject to a civil claim. This scenario most commonly (and tragically) occurs when someone is under the age of 21, and the social host has either furnished, or knowingly allowed the minor to consume alcohol, and then the underaged person gets behind the wheel and injures or kills someone else. In that circumstance, the person who allowed or furnished the alcohol could face a civil lawsuit brought by the person injured or the family of someone who was killed.

Sinas Dramis is a personal injury law firm that for more than 70 years has represented those injured in Michigan. We feel it is important to educate Michigan residents about the law, and hope that doing so will keep people safe. If you or a loved one are injured due to the negligence or action of someone else, please contact our firm for a free consultation. We happily serve those injured throughout all of Michigan.