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Safe Driving During the Holidays

December 11, 2013 | Posted In Drunk Driving, Personal Injury/Negligence, Recent News |

Company Christmas parties and cozy get-togethers with family and friends provide many opportunities for good food, good company, and good drinks. But when the alcohol is flowing too freely, partygoers risk impaired judgment, and the potential to enter into unsafe conditions, drunk driving attorneys in New Jersey warn. This holiday season, both party hosts and partygoers should remember to drink and drive safely as they celebrate. 

If you are throwing a party for your friends and family, you have a responsibility to ensure the safety of your guests, and you can also be held liable for their actions if they become too intoxicated at your event. Many states have passed laws that hold party hosts responsible for any alcohol-related injuries that result from providing alcohol to partygoers under 21. This liability extends to all injuries sustained by the minor drinkers themselves, as well as any other individuals who were hurt as a result of the minor’s alcohol-fueled actions. For example, if an underage drinker leaves a party where alcohol has been served, and hits another driver on his way home, the injured party can bring a personal injury lawsuit against the underage drinker, as well as the hosts of the party where the alcohol was served. The hosts can also be charged with criminal activity for providing alcohol to a minor, and for letting the minor drive after becoming intoxicated. 

Some states also have “social host liability” laws, which apply to all persons encouraged to drink excessively, regardless of whether they are over the legal drinking age limit. In New Jersey, adult hosts have a responsibility to not supply alcohol to underage drinkers, and their social host liability statute holds social hosts responsible for any injuries sustained by a third party, and caused by a partygoer who became visibly intoxicated while in their home. If the injuries are “a result of negligent operation of a vehicle by the guest,” the courts allow the injured person to sue the hosts, but the host is not held responsible for any injuries sustained by the intoxicated guest. The courts have also interpreted the statute’s wording “provide” to include instances where guests serve themselves. 

Guests who have imbibed a little too much at their holiday festivities should remember to be smart in finding ways to get home. Before going out, drunk driving lawyers in New Jersey recommend choosing one person to act as the designated driver, and to take turns at different holiday events. The designated driver, or DD, will not drink at the party, and will ensure that everyone gets home safely. Not only does this prevent instances of drunken driving, but it conserves gas, too! 

If you are hosting a party in your home, or attending your friends’ events, don’t let alcohol ruin your holiday spirit. If you do happen to get a DUI/DWI, contact a drunk driving attorney at New Jersey law firm Helmer, Conley, and Kasselman, PA, for a free, no-strings consultation on how best to handle this issue today.  

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