Howie, Sacks & Henry LLP – Personal Injury Law – Michael J. HenryThis upcoming holiday season, one’s mind turns to parties which often involve drinking alcoholic beverages. This is a good time to keep in mind that hosts of parties, whether it is taking place at your home or at an event venue, may have a responsibility to guests who consume alcohol.

In this blog post, I provide some tips for keeping your guests safe once they leave your party.

Holiday Party: Prevent Drinking and Drivingholiday-bar1-300x259

As a host of an event where alcohol will be served, you should keep your guests’ safety in mind. Given the nature of the holiday and everyone’s good mood, guests can and do often overindulge and become intoxicated. A host’s concern is not just to the intoxicated, but to anyone who has consumed alcohol, regardless of how much. It doesn’t take much for a guest to be “over the limit”.

A host should use common sense when alcohol is provided at a party. Whether, it is provided for free, the guests are paying for it, or the guests bring it, the host should ensure that the guests do not leave the party intoxicated. If the host is aware that a guest may be driving, arrangements should be made for the person to take a taxi or get a ride.

If you are hosting a party where alcohol is being consumed, be diligent as to the amount of alcohol being imbibed by your guests, whether you do it yourself or those serving do so. When a person seems intoxicated, do not hesitate to refuse them service and offer to call a cab to take them home, or arrange them a ride. Be sure to also serve non-alcoholic beverages. While serving coffee at the end of the evening will not sober people up, it is a nice option for the end of an evening and gives the guests an opportunity to continue socializing without drinking more alcohol.

A Host’s Liability

The Supreme Court of Canada has made it clear that the simple act of holding a party where people get drink and then drive will not, without other factors, result in legal liability. But where an exchange of money is involved, or where a special relationship exists (for example, kids under 18 drinking at the party), or where the host does something to specifically create a dangerous situation (for example, to someone who is already drunk, knowing that the person intends to drive home), the Court may hold the host responsible for any injuries or accidents that follow. In any event, hosts should feel a moral obligation to ensure that their family, friends and guests make it home safe and not cause injury to themselves or anyone else.

From your friends at Howie, Sacks & Henry, have a safe and happy holiday season. For more information about social host liability, feel free to contact Michael J. Henry at 416-361-0889 or by email at

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