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social host liability

Social host liability refers to the body of law (statutes and court opinions) that governs the liability of social hosts who serve alcohol to adults or minors. The question of social host liability arises when the adults or minors served alcohol are injured, or injure others.

In many states a social host—including the guest’s employer—who does not charge an adult guest—18 years or older in some states and 21 years or older in other states—for alcoholic drinks and who does not serve the beverages under the authority of a license or permit—is not liable for the guest’s actions or injuries to himself or others.

But in most states an adult social host is liable for personal injuries and property damage caused by a minor to whom the social host provides or furnishes alcoholic beverages—especially if the social host knew or should have known the minor would drive a motor vehicle under the influence or if the minor was obviously intoxicated when the social host provided or furnished alcoholic beverages.

Laws regarding social host liability vary from state to state and are usually located in a state’s statutes.

In Texas, social host liability is governed by the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code, which holds social hosts responsible under certain circumstances. Texas law does not generally impose liability on social hosts who serve alcohol to adults, but it does have provisions for situations involving minors. Under the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code Section 2.02, a social host can be held liable for damages caused by a minor if the host knowingly served or provided alcohol to the minor, or allowed the minor to be served on the premises owned or controlled by the host. This liability applies particularly if the minor causes a motor vehicle accident while intoxicated. However, there is an exception if the alcohol was provided by a parent, guardian, or spouse in a non-public place. It's important to note that Texas does not have a Dram Shop Act that applies to social hosts serving adults; such laws typically apply to commercial establishments. The nuances of social host liability can be complex, and those concerned about potential liability should consult with an attorney for guidance specific to their situation.

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