Understanding Social Host Liability Law

Do you plan on serving alcoholic beverages the next time you host a social gathering at your home? If the answer is yes, you should learn about the law regarding “social host liability”.

Social host liability is a legal theory used to describe the responsibility of an individual who provides alcohol to guests. While several other states have laws regarding social host liability, Michigan does not. What this really means, is that party hosts who supply alcohol to their guests, are NOT responsible for the damage those guests cause while intoxicated.

However, there is one key exception – Minors. Under Michigan law, MCL 436.1701, alcohol shall not be provided to any person under the age of 21 years old. So, if you host a social gathering or party at your home and provide alcohol to a minor, you could be responsible for the damage that minor causes while intoxicated, including a drunk driving accident.

When planning and hosting your next social gathering, please keep these tips in mind:

• Planning the party:

  • Encourage guests to volunteer as designated drivers
  • Limit your own alcohol intake so you can drive guests home if needed
  • Purchase and have non-alcoholic beverages available
  • Provide cab company phone numbers and have extra cash for cab fare on hand
  • Determine and announce a party time ending well in advance

• Serving Drinks:

  • DO NOT serve alcohol to Minors
  • Encourage and push food, not alcohol
  • Limit the number of drinks per guest
  • Serve water, coffee, tea and other non-alcoholic beverages
  • Stop serving alcohol at least one hour before the party ends

A responsible social host not only takes care of guests’ needs, but also helps keep everyone safe!