Holiday Host Liability When Guests are Overserved and Drive Drunk

Holiday celebrations in Missouri frequently involve sharing drinks with loved ones. While these occasions are filled with joy, they also increase the likelihood of individuals getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. 

From 2009 to 2018, alcohol-impaired drivers claimed the lives of 2,506 individuals in Missouri. In the year 2018 alone, 2.2% of Missouri adults admitted to driving after consuming excessive amounts of alcohol, a rate higher than the national average of 1.7%.

In 2022, during Thanksgiving in Missouri, 314 crashes resulted in personal injuries, and on Christmas, 17 crashes involving personal injuries were reported. In 2021, these numbers were 358 and 256, with 3 alcohol-related fatalities.     

If an intoxicated driver in Missouri has injured you, contact Cofman and Townsley for a complimentary consultation. Our legal team can assist in determining who is at fault and pursue a claim for compensation on your behalf.

Does Missouri Have a Social Host Liability Law?

Under R.S. Mo. 311.310, a social host in Missouri could face criminal charges if they knowingly allow a minor to consume alcohol on their premises. The consequences of these actions can range from misdemeanor charges to fines and imprisonment.

Social hosts are not legally responsible for injuries inflicted by a guest who is under the influence of alcohol. The Missouri Supreme Court has determined and upheld in several cases that imposing liability on social hosts could adversely affect social and family interactions

The court distinguishes between social hosts’ duties and commercial establishments’ obligations in these situations. Under Dram Shop Laws, bars and liquor stores can face legal responsibility for civil damages if they sell alcohol to someone who then causes a car accident.

What if the Driver Crosses the State Line into Illinois?

If you’re hosting a holiday party near the Missouri-Illinois border, or if you live in East St. Louis, there could be legal ramifications if one of your guests becomes inebriated and then drives in Illinois. 

Adults who supply alcohol to a minor can be held accountable in civil court for any accidents or damage caused by an underage drinker. However, this liability is specific to situations involving minors; there is no broad civil liability for adults serving other adults in a non-commercial setting. 

Who is Responsible if a Holiday Party Guest Drinks and Drives?

In Missouri, the driver is typically held accountable for their conduct. Therefore, if a guest at a holiday party decides to consume alcohol and then gets behind the wheel, they would be liable for any accidents that ensue. You can work with an attorney at our law firm to file a claim against the drunk driver’s liability insurance policy.

Victims and their families may seek additional financial relief when the damage incurred exceeds what the driver’s insurance can cover. But in Missouri, the law doesn’t let you sue a social host for damages, even if they contributed to the driver’s intoxication and subsequent involvement in causing your injuries.

What Hosts Can Do to Keep Guests Safe Before They Get on the Road

Although social hosts are not legally accountable for the actions of an intoxicated guest after they depart, there is still a moral and ethical duty to ensure that guests return home without incident. To safeguard their guests and fellow drivers, hosts can take these steps:

  • Monitor alcohol intake. Monitor guests’ alcohol intake and discourage overindulgence.
  • Provide non-alcoholic options. Offer plenty of non-alcoholic beverages like sparkling water or mocktails for guests who prefer not to drink or are designated drivers.
  • Arrange transportation. Arrange for ride-sharing services or establish a designated driver program ahead of time for guests who might require it.
  • Offer to host overnight. Consider offering overnight accommodation for guests to eliminate the need to drive after the event.
  • Stop serving early. Stop serving alcohol well before the party’s conclusion, giving attendees a chance to sober up before leaving.

Get Skilled Legal Representation After a Holiday Crash

As the holiday season draws near, it’s crucial to remember that festive celebrations should never compromise safety. If you or a loved one has been a victim in an accident involving an intoxicated driver, speak with our Missouri drunk driving crash injury lawyers at Cofman Townsley. 

We can offer compassionate legal support, helping you determine liability and file your compensation claim against the at-fault driver. Our team knows how to gather evidence to prove a drunk driving claim and can help you get the settlement you deserve. 

Contact us today to schedule your free case review.