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Party Hosts: You Could Be Liable for Drunk Driving Crashes if You Serve a Minor!

The last few months of the year are filled with festive holidays, making them a time of celebration and togetherness. For those who throw parties or family gatherings at the end of the year, it can be tempting to allow minors to grab some alcohol and drink with everyone else so they can join in on the fun.

However, if those minors get into a drunk driving accident on the way home, it can have devastating results for everyone, including you.

If you allow teens to drink at an event you host, you could find yourself on the receiving end of a personal injury lawsuit. Explore how Wisconsin law can hold you responsible for a teenager’s drunk driving accident and when to seek legal advice from an Appleton personal injury lawyer with Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers.

The Host’s Liabilities

In most cases, Wisconsin law doesn’t make party hosts liable for the actions of drunk guests. That means if one of your guests gets drunk and injures someone else, you aren’t responsible just because you served your guest alcohol.

However, the law explicitly excludes minors from this provision, leaving hosts liable for the actions of drunk minors. Under Wisconsin Statute §125.035, if a host provides alcohol to someone under the legal drinking age of 21 (whether they give them alcohol directly or allow them to take it), the host is responsible for any injuries or legal consequences the minor causes.

For instance, you allow your teenage relative to have a few drinks at a family gathering, and they collide with a pedestrian while trying to drive home. If the pedestrian decides to pursue compensation for their injuries, they can go after your relative for the collision, but they can also seek a settlement from you for allowing your underage relative to drink.

Holidays Increase Drinking—and Drunk Driving

Many people host parties or gatherings for year-end holidays like Christmas and New Year. At these parties, people often drink to engage in the celebration. However, many people get behind the wheel after these gatherings, with tragic results.

The National Safety Council reported that while drunk driving typically accounted for 28% of 2019’s fatal car accidents, it made up 38% of deadly crashes on Christmas Day and 36% during the New Year’s holiday. When drunk driving isn’t fatal, it can leave the victim with serious injuries and potentially lifelong disabilities.

Hosts of an event are responsible for providing their guests with food, drink, and other amenities during a party. However, they also have a responsibility to keep guests safe. Keeping teens from drinking at your events protects more than just your guests; it protects you from legal liability for their car accidents.

Drunk Driving and Teens

Driving is already risky for teens, especially during the wintry Wisconsin holidays. Adding alcohol to the mix raises the risks for anyone of any age. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 were responsible for 15% of drunk driving fatalities in 2019.

Teenagers are more likely to make impulsive decisions, drive recklessly, or engage in other thrill-seeking behavior that can be dangerous on the road. Supplying them with alcohol is even more unsafe than it is for most adults. Don’t assume they’ll ride home with their sober parents or have a designated driver; many teens will significantly overestimate their ability to drive safely or get behind the wheel for a short drive home or to a friend’s.

Get Legal Assistance from Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers

Whether you willingly or unknowingly supplied alcohol to teenage party guests, you can face a lawsuit if they injure or kill someone in a car accident. If you’re the victim of a drunk teen driver, you need to protect your rights as a pedestrian. Whether you’re the party host or a victim of their irresponsible decisions, you need an Appleton personal injury lawyer to provide legal advice.

In this situation, look no further than Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers. Our law firm has extensive experience handling drunk driving accidents in Wisconsin and is ready to answer questions and provide advice, no matter your role in the lawsuit.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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