CA liability for alcohol service at private events?
March 7, 2004 9:55 PM   Subscribe

I live in California. If I have a wedding reception at a hotel or restaurant and serve alcohol using the facility's bartenders and servers, who is responsible/legally liable if one of my guests gets into an accident - me, as the host of the event, or the hotel/restaurant who provided the servers and bartenders?
posted by echolalia67 to Law & Government (7 answers total)
as someone who will be getting married this fall, we have already delt with this question. the bartenders and the establishment are the ones responsible for anyone leaving intoxicated. if you were serving the alcohol, then it would be your responsibility.

we rented some property for our wedding, and are buying our own alcohol for the event. we have bartenders hired, though, so we are not responsible. we have to get insurance for the day at the site for serving alcohol, but that is because we are renting a piece of property and signed an agreement making my spouse to be and i liable. since you will be having yours at a restaurant/ hotel, that is something you don't need to worry about.
posted by chrisroberts at 10:08 PM on March 7, 2004

IANALIC but typically places licensed to serve alcohol will carry Dramshop Insurance to cover their negligence if an impaired patron leaves and slides hir car into a busload of nuns. If you want to ease your concerns, ask the site and they should be able to explain it to you. You shouldn't have anything to worry about -- you aren't serving the alcohol, you're only paying for it -- but they'll be able to make it clear.

You may also want to look into booking hotel rooms and encouraging guests to stay overnight. Legal liability aside, weddings tend to bring out the kookier side of people; you don't want a wedding album that features Cousin Lance being bailed out of county jail for DUI.
posted by subgenius at 11:10 PM on March 7, 2004

Am I being silly, but isn't a fooking ridiculous state of affairs when an adult legally allowed to drive can claim that the responsibility for any subsequent problem is with anyone else but him/ her? And isn't it terrible that, when plnning a wedding, you need to worry about this?
posted by Pericles at 2:14 AM on March 8, 2004

posted by rudyfink at 2:17 AM on March 8, 2004

isn't a fooking ridiculous state of affairs when an adult legally allowed to drive can claim that the responsibility for any subsequent problem is with anyone else but him/ her?

Yes. But: If there is an accident as a result of this adult's OUI, its often the other party in the accident (or their survivors) who bring the suit, not the driver him/her self. While these suits are often dismissed, it still sucks (and is expensive) to be named in the lawsuit in the first place.
posted by anastasiav at 8:36 AM on March 8, 2004

Get everyone to sign a disclaimer, stating responsibility for their own lives.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:37 AM on March 8, 2004

It isn't that the person who slides into the busload of nuns isn't negligent. They are. It's that a reasonably prudent person selling alcoholic beverages isn't going to sell them to someone who is obviously intoxicated. The tort system creates a financial disincentive for irresponsible behavior not only by the potential drunk driver, but also by the person who continues to sell him or her liquor once she or he is clearly out of their mind on the booze.

Note that this only effects businesses. In many states, you can legally invite your friends over to your house, fill them full of liquor, and dare them to drive by the schoolyard on their way home. Just ran the plan by your attorney before ordering the Jagermeister keg.
posted by subgenius at 9:31 AM on March 8, 2004

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