If I have a retail skateboard shop opening and will be throwing a private party in the evening at the shop with the doors locked, can I provide beer for free?

I will be throwing a private party in the evening at the shop with the doors locked. Can I provide beer for free or can it be BYOB as it is private? What is my potential liability if I do?

Asked on June 8, 2012 under Personal Injury, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

In Massachuessets, if you serve alcohol to guests who are or appear to be intoxicated, you could be liable for any injuries they cause to others or damage they cause to other's property. As long as you are not charging in any way for the alcohal, you should be able to provide it or allow others to bring it; BYOB may make you somewhat less likely to be potentially liable for injuries/damage caused by intoxicated  guests, but if you are performing any "bartender" functions, even with alcohol provided by others, you can't entirely escape the possibility of liability. Of course, you need to comply with all underage drinking laws--i.e. don't serve anyone under 21.

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