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Social host negligence and liability

The vast majority of parents may agree that there is only so much they can do to ensure that their underage children make smart and responsible decisions. Underage drinking is a major issue in the state of California, and results in hundreds of serious injuries and deaths every year. And while some parents allow their kids and other underage people to consume alcohol in their presence as a way to control the drinking environment and prevent injury incidents from occurring, they can be held liable for social host negligence under the law in some instances.

According to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department website, alcohol consumption plays a huge role in fatal accident incidents involving people under the age of 21. Studies show that around one third of underage drinkers obtain alcohol from their own parents, and that 25 percent of them drink at parties where adults know alcohol is being served to underage attendees. Despite the fact that such findings suggest that underage drinking is condoned and even encouraged by adults in many cases, social host ordinances in cities throughout the state prohibit adults from allowing underage guests from drinking alcohol on their property.

Social hosts are required to supervise minors at all times and prohibit all underage guests from having access to alcohol. Those who fail to properly control the access and distribution of alcohol can be held responsible for any accidents or injuries that occur. In fact, the Los Angeles Times reported on a California Supreme Court ruling that mandates that anyone who charges a cover fee at a party where alcohol is served can be held liable for the actions of an underage drinker. Under the reasoning of the court, an entrance fee equates to the sale of alcohol and subjects the social host to underage drinking guidelines.

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