Extraordinary Holiday Parties: Could You be Responsible for a DUI?

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If you're throwing a Christmas party and you're planning on serving alcohol, it's important for you to remember that you may face various criminal and civil liabilities if someone imbibes at the party and gets into an accident. Unfortunately, many people each year find themselves facing a mountain of debt because they ignored their responsibilities, and if you're not careful, you could be next.

What's the Big Deal?
Because alcohol has the ability to create an intoxicated state, individuals and businesses that serve alcohol at holiday parties or during any other time of the year have an obligation to ensure that it is used in a safe manner. Essentially, if you serve someone alcohol and they then become injured or injure others as a result of their consumption, you may be held liable for the injuries and their associated costs. Keep in mind that accidents involving alcohol often cause tens of thousands of dollars or more in property damage and medical costs, and all of these costs can fall squarely on your shoulders if it can be proven in court that your actions were the major contributing factor.

Criminal Proceedings
If you serve someone alcohol and they end up injuring or killing themselves or another person, the fact is that you may also be held criminally responsible. If this happens, you may be arrested and placed in jail until you are able to have a court hearing, and then you'll have to stand before a judge and jury to defend yourself. Whether you ask an Oregon or Virginia dui lawyer, they'll warn you that punishments for contributing to an injury or death due to negligence can range from years of probation to many years in prison depending upon the circumstances.

Driving Under the Influence
In addition, even if no one is injured due to the alcohol that you served, you may still face issues if someone receives a DUI as the result of your alcoholic offerings. While you may not face criminal charges in such a circumstance, if you serve alcohol to a guest at your party and he or she then drives and gets a DUI, he or she may then come back and sue you for the damages, meaning you may still be liable for thousands of dollars in costs.

How to Protect Yourself
If you plan on serving alcohol at your next office or personal holiday party, you need to do a few things. First, inquire with your state alcohol authority about obtaining a license to serve various types of alcohol. In some cases, obtaining a license will limit your liabilities. Second, always use common sense. If someone appears to be intoxicated, don't serve them any more alcohol. Additionally, you may consider offering only a limited number of drinks per person by using a ticket system, and always offer people a safe way to get home.

Finally, you may want to consider not serving alcohol at your office or personal holiday party at all. While many people may want to drink while having a good time over the holidays, you need to consider the risks involved and whether they are worth it to you or not. If you choose not to serve alcohol, you may instead offer each guest an alcoholic gift, such as a bottle of wine. By doing this, you are refusing to serve alcohol while still offering people the chance to drink on their own terms, thereby alleviating your potential liabilities.

A former journalist, Ann Bailey posts this friendly reminder for party planners this season.  If someone you know gets arrested for driving under the influence in the Dominion State, the Virginia dui lawyer group at the Wilson law Firm will follow all aggressive procedures in fighting for their legal rights within the circumstances.
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