Social Host Liability For Serving Alcohol to Guests in Ohio


An Ohio social host who provides alcohol to a guest may or may not be held responsible for a car crash caused by the intoxicated guest. The difference is whether the social guest is over the legal age for drinking, i.e. 21 years old. In Cleveland, Ohio and elsewhere in the state, if a host knowingly serves alcohol to an underage person, the host can be held responsible if the underage guest is involved in a car crash and injures other people. The injured person will have to prove that the driver’s intoxication was the reason that the car accident occurred. If the guest is over 21 years of age, Ohio law does not hold the host responsible.

If the guest is under 21 years of age, the host will be held responsible if it can be shown that the host either knew that the underage guest was drinking alcohol or the host had to recognize that alcohol was likely to be consumed by the underage guest. Party hosts will often claim that they were unaware that an underage guest was at the party, had been drinking alcohol at the party, or was likely to drink alcohol at the party. Under certain circumstances, a host may have a duty to supervise the access of beer or alcohol to guests, particularly if the host has rented a party center that has rules to that effect. 

A social host should follow certain common sense rules.  These would include always knowing who is at the party, monitoring the alcohol consumption of the guests, and insisting upon a designated driver or a cab for someone who has consumed too much alcohol.

Whenever there is a serious car accident that may involve alcohol consumption, it makes sense to contact an Ohio car crash attorney soon after the crash. In any situation where there is some evidence that an underage guest consumed alcohol at a party, an attorney should conduct an investigation by talking to others at the party and take statements while memories are still fresh.