Party Time Becomes Liability Time when Minors are Served Alcohol

Let’s paint a hypothetical, but realistic scenario. Summer is in full swing, your daughter is turning 21 and she wants to host a barbecue at the house to celebrate with childhood friends while home from college. While mostly responsible, some of her friends are a few months away from reaching the legal drinking age, but being a cool parent, you decide to host the party and even supply some beer and margaritas to help her enjoy the newfound freedom.

You’ve always taken underage drinking seriously, and know many of the other parents in your community do to. So how do you handle the underage crowd? You could card everyone at the door and give bracelets or stamps to those who are of age. You could take car keys away and allow everyone to drink if they don’t drive. You could turn a blind eye and assume the kids will be just as responsible now as they will be in two months and trust them to make sound judgments.

While it might not make you cool, keeping the underage crowd sober makes good financial and legal sense. According to a Waco Tribune article, quoting Lt. Tom Dickson of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission:

“People who have parties at home, or so-called social hosts, make up the bulk of those charged with giving alcohol to minors… People often think they won’t get caught. But charges could easily be triggered by a neighbor reporting the party or a guest getting in trouble on the way home.”

Even as responsible parents, it’s impossible to keep tabs on everyone at all times, so the second best thing beyond a bouncer-like bracelet system is covering your liability for worst case scenarios. According to the article, most Texas homeowners insurance policies include $100,000 worth of liability which can be increased to $500,000 for about an extra $15 to $20 per year.

The coverage would be available for defense fees and or court judgments that arise from a minor or other inebriated party-goer causing a lawsuit that traces back to the place where they were served.

Umbrella insurance is another option and ideal for people with a pool or trampoline, major injury risk in their own right, since it can cover much higher amounts of liability.

The ability to drink legally is a benchmark for, many young men and women, so no matter what insurance you choose, we encourage you to teach responsibility and not enable under-aged drinking under any circumstances.

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