New Year’s Eve is almost here! That means popping champagne at midnight. But it could also mean your party guests consuming a lot of alcohol before the ball drops. As the host of the party, do you know what your legal duties are if your guest drinks too much and then causes a car accident? Can you as the host of a New Year’s Eve party be legally responsible for injuries or death caused by one of your party guest who drank too much? Here is the actual Florida law that addresses the question:
768.125 Liability for injury or damage resulting from intoxication.—A person who sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person of lawful drinking age shall not thereby become liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such person, except that a person who willfully and unlawfully sells or furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person who is not of lawful drinking age or who knowingly serves a person habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages may become liable for injury or damage caused by or resulting from the intoxication of such minor or person.
In other words, Florida law states that individuals or companies who sell or serve alcohol are not liable for injuries or damages caused by the drunk driver except in two situations.
1. If the drunk driver was under the age of 21, the individual who served the alcohol can be held liable for the damages. The statute does not contain any knowledge requirement, presumably because the serving party has a duty to ensure that everyone they sell or provide alcohol to is of legal age to consume it.
2. Persons who serve a person who they know is “habitually addicted to the use of any or all alcoholic beverages” may be liable for injury and damages caused as a result of the intoxication. These cases hinge on knowing that the partygoer and later drunk driver was “habitually addicted.”
Enjoy the New Year’s Eve parties, but be safe. Call a taxi or have a sober friend drive. Make lasting joyous memories, not memories that will haunt you or your friends and family.
Personal Injury Attorney Matthew Noyes represents those injured in car accidents, motorcycle crashes, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents and other types of personal injury matters. He is a named partner at the Tampa Bay law firm of Perenich Caulfield Avril Noyes – one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Pinellas County. Call Attorney Matthew Noyes now at 727-796-8282 or complete the form on this page or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.