If an organization is hosting an event, can itbe held liable if someone leaves intoxicated and gets into an accident?

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If an organization is hosting an event, can itbe held liable if someone leaves intoxicated and gets into an accident?

My non-profit organization is having an event at a catering facility and we want to provide a 2-hour “Open Bar”. There will also be valet parking provided by the venue. Can we be held legally responsible is someone leaves the event intoxicated and gets into an accident?

Asked on September 23, 2010 under Criminal Law, New Jersey

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

What you are referencing are known as "dram shop" laws, where tavern owners or social hosts of a party can be held responsible for serving intoxicated persons and minors who then leave the party and cause harm to another.  Yes, they are very real laws and it is my understanding that since a ruling in 1999 where a jury awarded the family of a 6 year old girl over $100 million dollars after she was hit and paralyzed by a drunk driver who had been drinking at a Giants game, New Jersey has seriously cracked down on the matter.  So I would consult with an attorney in your area as to the matter and truly whether or not it is worth the trouble.  Good luck.


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