If there is one thing Dallas knows how to do, it is how to throw a party. The Super Bowl, New Year’s Eve, and Thanksgiving are wonderful opportunities to invite friends and loved ones to your house. There is nothing like the feeling of providing guests with food, drinks, and conversation to remove yourself from the stress of everyday life, but what do you do when the festivities end? Many guests will have obligations the next day or even other events that occupy their schedule. If these guests have had more than a couple of drinks, what can you do to prevent them from driving home? And if they insist, what liability do you have in the case of a DUI car accident on Dallas roads?
Based on the “Social Host Law” of Texas, hosts of parties are generally in luck. The only two instances in which the host can be held liable are the following:
1. If the host supplied alcohol to minors or
2. If the host supplied the keys to an automotive vehicle to someone under the influence
On these terms, it seems relatively easy to rid yourself of responsibility for those who may potentially drink and drive. However, what happens if a DWI car accident does occur? The drunk driver may not have a claim against you, but what about the person that was hit with the vehicle? Texas states that the victim can bring a lawsuit to the host of a party, though the outcome is contingent on the circumstance. If you are held liable, you may be incarcerated for a year in prison and/or fined up to $4,000.
When Your Friends Turn
Despite the fact that the law alleviates responsibility, the person involved in the DWI car accident may and can take you to court. Your friend may argue that you had a responsibility, as the host of the party, to ensure that no drunk drivers operated a motorized vehicle. They may argue that you provided the keys to them. Because of such exceptional cases, it is imperative that you keep a record of the moment of discussion with the driver. Documenting exactly what was said from both parties will prevent misunderstandings from arising and make it clear that you are not at fault for the circumstances.
Texas, Relative to the Rest of the Country
Texas is considered lenient in terms of letting friends drive; in many states, the host of a gathering will be responsible for the well-being of his or her guests. This is unfair, however, considering that parties can include too many guests to keep track of or that guests may bring other guests. What if your friend John brought his friend Chris? Chris may decide to knowingly evade your supervision to drive home, afraid that you will stop him from driving. It seems unfair that you would be held liable for his malicious actions. Now, 37 states in the country have enacted some variation of the “Social Host Law” that finds party hosts to be liable for drunk drivers that leave their parties. Texas hosts can rest assured that adults will be found responsible for their own devious actions in the Lone Star State.
Party hosts in Dallas often run into legal issues. Do not let yourself be a victim. Contact the Franklin Law Firm for a free consultation.