Protecting the lives of friends and family can be as easy as taking away someone’s keys and offering him or her sober ride home. In fact, when the party is at your own house, many feel that morally, if not legally, you are accountable for the safety of any guests (or other drivers on the road) when alcohol is being served. But, what if your party gets “out of hand,” through the grapevine and people end up driving home drunk? Could you be held accountable for the bad judgment of people you may have never met before that night? In Michigan, it isn’t likely.
Social host laws are loosely defined when it comes to a host’s responsibility for guests who may leave an alcohol-saturated private party and then drive while intoxicated. In Michigan, while there are clear definitions for an adult furnishing alcoholic beverages to minors under these circumstances, even the social host laws state that a person must be seen actually serving alcohol to anyone under the age of 21. This means that the host of an “epic rave” will not necessarily be held accountable for the illegal actions of any of his or her guests, unless he or she is seen handing out the alcohol to minors.
Michigan Social Host Laws state a person is in violation if:
- The party specifically includes underage drinking in or on a private residence (or outdoors).
- The host has actual knowledge of the consumption of alcohol by minors, and does nothing to stop or prevent the drinking.
In addition, if all guests at the social function are family members and/or relatives, there is no applicable “social host” law for underage drinking.
The 20-year-old host of an out-of-hand party in Michigan that included underage drinking, drug overdoses and a sexual assault, has claimed partial responsibility for his party, yet, he also contends that the party guests made their own choices when it came to drinking and that parents should have been more involved. As a social host, when alcohol is being served, should any consumption by a minor at a private party be legal grounds for an arrest or conviction, or, are parents ultimately responsible for the choices made by the underage drinkers?