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Planning a Holiday Party? Know the Law

The holidays mean parties! But parties can mean problems. What does the law say about personal liability?

The holidays mean parties! But parties can mean problems. What does the law say about personal liability?

Let’s get real! We know people enjoy parties and love to host them. Of course consuming alcohol at parties does happen, and this is a cause for concern, particularly when partygoers take it too far and find themselves somewhat inebriated. If you are considering hosting a party this holiday season, we want you to be better informed of the laws in place in Washington.

Laws on Hosting a Party in Washington

In Washington there are three groups of alcohol providers. Private-party hosts, referred to as “social hosts”, licensed alcohol vendors, known as dram shops (bars, saloons, public houses, beer gardens, etc.) and “quasi-commercial hosts” who do not sell alcohol, but furnish it to their guests in the interest of business.

A dram shop or quasi-commercial host can find themselves facing potential liability if they serve a minor. If a dram shop or quasi-commercial host sold or provided alcohol to an adult who is obviously intoxicated at the time, that alcohol provider could be sued. This generally does not apply with a purely social host.

The host of a private party will generally only face liability if a person under the age of 21 years old is served alcohol at that host’s private party, and that minor person becomes injured as a result of his or her inebriation. This is because RCW 66.44.270 makes it “unlawful for any person to sell, give, or otherwise supply liquor to any person under the age of twenty-one years or permit person under that age to consume liquor on his premises or on any premises under his or her control.”

To summarize: In Washington a private social host would generally not be open to liability for supplying alcohol to adult persons, but they could face liability for providing alcohol to minors.

Most often a quasi-commercial host circumstance arises when a business hosts a party, or there is a business reason for the party. This scenario could also apply if a social host charges money at a party door to cover the cost of the alcohol being served. If this is the case the social host will no longer be protected by the Washington social host rule and could be found liable for their negligent acts.

We all want to have a little fun when the holidays roll around. But have fun responsibly and stay safe and healthy. If you’ve been injured in any way, and you feel someone else may be responsible, please contact us in our Edmonds office today. We want to make sure you are taken care of and justice is served.

Note: This information was provided not for any specific claim and is written in broad and general terms and may not be the right path to follow for a particular claim or case. This information is not intended to create an attorney client relationship. It is always best to receive direct legal counsel for your legal issues. It is never too early to call the attorney, but it can be too late.

(425) 672-7100