The holidays are a time to celebrate with family and friends, but it’s no time to forget that with celebrations come responsibilities, especially when hosting a party. Last summer my neighbour was overserved at a local pub, went home, fell down the stairs, and died. It was a senseless and preventable tragedy that tore a family apart.
Overserving at restaurants and bars happens all too often; bar owners, servers, and bartenders all want to make the customer happy. Let’s face it; telling someone they’ve had too much to drink is uncomfortable in many situations. And let’s not forget the moneymaking aspect for bar owners.
In 1972 the Supreme Court of Canada decided there was a special relationship between a bar and its patrons. The following excerpt taken from Canada Safety Council makes the relationship quite clear:
The bar “invites” the patron to use its premises to buy and drink alcohol. There is a duty or responsibility on the bar to ensure that there is no “foreseeable” harm that occurs to the patron because of what the bar does (serving alcohol to a patron when he is visibly intoxicated and then ejecting him) and what it fails to do (take preventative steps – offer a ride or call a taxi or police).
Establishments now have a Duty of Care for their patrons.
So, what happens when you invite people into your home to consume alcohol? Do you — the host — have a duty of care? Does your home or office party fall under the special relationship law? If you’re hosting, the answer should be yes, and the law provides guidelines so you can learn how to be a responsible party host.
Guideline To Being A Social Host
- is not selling or supplying alcohol for profit;
- is not an employer, or any position in which he or she has a unique relationship with his or her guests; and
- is serving alcohol or condoning the service/consumption of alcohol on premises over which he or she has control.
Then there is the whole B.Y.O.B issue. Are you liable if people bring their own booze?
Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer. The topic is as grey as it gets, however many people have been successfully sued and found liable as social hosts who allowed people to leave parties while impaired.
How can you protect yourself this holiday season and really have your guests Party Safe?
How To Be A Responsible Party Host
- As the host, don’t overserve yourself. Limit your alcohol consumption throughout the party in order to pay closer attention to your guests.
- Avoid a self-serve bar. I am all for hiring a bartender for the evening who has alcohol training.
- Provide MANY non-alcoholic selections. Have fun and create a signature Mocktail Punch for the evening.
- Say hi and bye! This one is SO important. Greet every guest to get a feel for how they’re doing on the sobriety scale: Have they been drinking already? Say goodbye to EVERY single person who leaves your home to gage how he or she is acting; they might need an alternate ride home.
- Have a spare bed or a couch ready. Only TIME will sober someone up. Not coffee or a slice of pizza or a cold shower. It’s all about how much alcohol is in the blood stream.
One last thing to remember…If you have a guest you believe is intoxicated and they refuse to take a taxi and insist on driving, you MUST call the police. It may seem dramatic but it is your Duty of Care to do so. Imagine how dramatic an accident would be?
For more information on liability as a Social Host be sure to check out Canada Safety Council.
Happy Holidays and PARTY SAFE!
Pictures courtesy of Pixabay.