Food & Drink

If my friends get drunk at my party, am I liable if they get into an accident?

  • Last Updated:
  • Oct 2nd, 2016 9:38 pm
Deal Fanatic
Sep 23, 2007
5061 posts
1138 upvotes
This law seems ridiculous to me.

-How would a commercial host be able to assess how drunk someone is? People behave differently when drunk. Some are depressed. Some are loud. Some look the same. I imagine if this law is strictly applied, then many restaurants would need to insist on giving patrons breathalyzer tests to limit the liability.

-How would a commercial host know the limit of a person? If you get drunk after a very small amount of alcohol, and then you leave the premise, what can the establishment do? You can also say for residential hosts too. If you invite someone you don't know very well, you can't always accurately tell if someone is drunk.

-How can a host control your behaviour when off premise? What is a reasonable duty of care? Suppose you are drunk and I offer to call you a taxi (oh and I have to pay for it too?) Do I need to have a bed at the restaurant for you to sleep over if you're so drunk that you can't even tell the taxi driver your home address? Do I need to have staff to watch over you?

-What if a friend offered a ride, but back peddle once off premise? See, a restaurant (and even a residential host) would have to be omnipotent to prevent drunk related accidents. Drunk related accidents can happen in many ways. How do you establish casual relationship that it was the restaurant's fault for serving the alcohol? If a restaurant patron is hit by a car, how do you establish it was due to alcohol? What if the driver was careless? You can establish drunk driving easily. But if a patron walks on the street and an accident occurs, it could be due to a variety of factors. What if the person was naturally clumsy? What if other people were involved? Let say a patron falls into a manhole because construction workers didn't cover it up. But it could have been avoided if the person was not drunk. Who is to blame? The construction worker? The patron who chose to walk outside drunk? The restaurant? The friends who just let his person go alone? Seems like all parties should be blamed in this situation and it seems ridiculous to fine the restaurant.

To me, it seems like it should be a common sense thing for the INDIVIDUAL to make arrangements for his/her own safety. As a friend and a residential host, the most I can say is "Are you ok? Do you want to stay over?" If the friend refuses, what can I do? I obviously can't physically restrain him/her. And as a commercial host, I'm not clear what can be done better aside from start giving everyone a breathalyzer test which seems wildly intrusive. Once you are off my premise, there is little I can do to control your actions, however stupid they may be.
Deal Fanatic
Nov 15, 2008
6072 posts
2548 upvotes
BananaHunter wrote:
Sep 29th, 2016 10:50 am
This law seems ridiculous to me.

-How would a commercial host be able to assess how drunk someone is?
In Ontario there is a training program called Smart Serve that trains alcohol servers to determine if a person is over-refreshed https://www.smartserve.ca/
BananaHunter wrote:
Sep 29th, 2016 10:50 am
-How can a host control your behaviour when off premise? What is a reasonable duty of care? Suppose you are drunk and I offer to call you a taxi (oh and I have to pay for it too?) Do I need to have a bed at the restaurant for you to sleep over if you're so drunk that you can't even tell the taxi driver your home address? Do I need to have staff to watch over you?

-What if a friend offered a ride, but back peddle once off premise? See, a restaurant (and even a residential host) would have to be omnipotent to prevent drunk related accidents. Drunk related accidents can happen in many ways. How do you establish casual relationship that it was the restaurant's fault for serving the alcohol? If a restaurant patron is hit by a car, how do you establish it was due to alcohol? What if the driver was careless? You can establish drunk driving easily. But if a patron walks on the street and an accident occurs, it could be due to a variety of factors. What if the person was naturally clumsy? What if other people were involved? Let say a patron falls into a manhole because construction workers didn't cover it up. But it could have been avoided if the person was not drunk. Who is to blame? The construction worker? The patron who chose to walk outside drunk? The restaurant? The friends who just let his person go alone? Seems like all parties should be blamed in this situation and it seems ridiculous to fine the restaurant.

To me, it seems like it should be a common sense thing for the INDIVIDUAL to make arrangements for his/her own safety. As a friend and a residential host, the most I can say is "Are you ok? Do you want to stay over?" If the friend refuses, what can I do? I obviously can't physically restrain him/her. And as a commercial host, I'm not clear what can be done better aside from start giving everyone a breathalyzer test which seems wildly intrusive. Once you are off my premise, there is little I can do to control your actions, however stupid they may be.
I will continue to illustrate using Boston Pizza news. Staff makes an effort, no fatalities, they are heroes:

‘Heroic’ Bracebridge restaurant staff tried to stop drunk driving to no avail
http://www.muskokaregion.com/news-story ... -no-avail/
BRACEBRIDGE – After a man left Boston Pizza intoxicated, staff called police twice to ensure he was not driving while drunk.

“Boston Pizza staff were quite heroic in their attempts,” said Crown attorney Lyndsay Jeanes in Bracebridge criminal court Tuesday, May 10.

The 21-year-old Bracebridge resident was at the restaurant on April 12. Heavily intoxicated, the accused was cut off from drinking. Staff tried to take his car keys and made sure a friend picked him up, said Jeanes. Then staff called police to alert them about the situation.

A few minutes later, staff watched as the accused and his friend returned to the parking lot and the accused got into his own car and drove away. Staff called the police again.

“The staff were even a bit annoyed police hadn’t come the first time they called,” said Jeanes.

Just off Taylor Road, police pulled over the accused, who was driving with a passenger. He was visibly intoxicated and had trouble pulling out his licence. With a reading of 134 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood, the accused was charged with impaired driving.

“I would like to apologize to you and the public,” he said to Judge JD Evans. “I made a mistake and I certainly won’t be doing that again.”

The man received $1,300 in fines and is prohibited from driving for a year.
Staff makes an effort, there is a fatality, the restaurant gets investigated:

Pizza shop employees called cops on suspected drunk driver before head-on crash
http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/pizza-shop ... -1.3086111
Calgary police and Alberta liquor license inspectors are investigating after a suspected drunk driver caused a serious head-on collision after staff at a restaurant said they tried to convince him not to get behind the wheel of his vehicle.
Sgt. Joerg Gottschling said police responded to a call around 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, about a suspected drunk driver leaving a Boston Pizza restaurant, but were too late to prevent the vehicle from crossing a median and colliding with a Toyota.
The woman driving the Toyota had to be extricated from the vehicle. She suffered serious, but non-life-threatening injuries. The man, who was driving a Ford Escape, was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Graham Wadsworth, a senior manager with the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission, said the agency has launched an investigation into “all of the events surrounding the service of an individual who visited that premises.”
Wadsworth said that servers are required not to serve customers alcohol “to and beyond the point of intoxication.”
“If individuals are deemed to have been served too much, (servers) are responsible to intervene, interrupt service an introduce non-alcoholic beverages or remove the individual from the premises,” he added.
Wadsworth said the “AGLC is thinking about the families involved in this event,” adding, “we’ll do what we can.”
Jordan Holm, senior vice-president of Boston Pizza International Inc., said “Boston Pizza takes the service of alcohol in our establishments very seriously for the safety of our Guests, our staff and our communities”
Holm said that, in addition to the provinically-mandated server training program Pro Serve, “Boston Pizza has developed an internal training program regarding the service of alcohol which all staff in that capacity must complete annually.”
Deal Addict
May 10, 2011
1338 posts
397 upvotes
Ottawa
DiceMan wrote:
Sep 29th, 2016 8:24 am
The law aside, realistically, how many people here would sue a friend if they got drunk at that friend's party and had an accident? I'm pretty sure I wouldn't since I've always believed my actions are my own responsibility, however stupid those actions might be.
The problem is, in most cases, that friend is already dead. And their family or insurance company is the one that sue.
Deal Fanatic
Apr 23, 2009
5153 posts
679 upvotes
South of Ottawa
There is no liability on the host's part if someone drinks at their home. There was a lawsuit in Ottawa some years ago, and she lost. Went to the Supreme Court, lost again.

The judgement left a door open for future cases where the host has control over what and how much a guest has to drink.

If my guest drives drunk

and a brief summary of the case: Childs v Desormeaux
Deal Expert
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Aug 18, 2005
18831 posts
3487 upvotes
GTA West
Beachdown wrote:
Sep 29th, 2016 5:00 pm
There is no liability on the host's part if someone drinks at their home. There was a lawsuit in Ottawa some years ago, and she lost. Went to the Supreme Court, lost again.

The judgement left a door open for future cases where the host has control over what and how much a guest has to drink.

If my guest drives drunk

and a brief summary of the case: Childs v Desormeaux
Thanks, I knew this case law existed but had trouble finding it.

Sounds like the rule should be to tell your guests to BYOB in written invitations, so you can officially have proof you don't have control over alcohol distribution.
Deal Addict
User avatar
May 22, 2016
2098 posts
495 upvotes
Ontario
Totally agree, tell guests to BYOB and provide snacks for them near the end of the night. The way the courts and lawyers are these days everybody is to blame but the person who caused it.
Deal Expert
User avatar
Jan 7, 2007
20376 posts
4332 upvotes
Poormond Hill
Beachdown wrote:
Sep 29th, 2016 5:00 pm
There is no liability on the host's part if someone drinks at their home. There was a lawsuit in Ottawa some years ago, and she lost. Went to the Supreme Court, lost again.

The judgement left a door open for future cases where the host has control over what and how much a guest has to drink.

If my guest drives drunk

and a brief summary of the case: Childs v Desormeaux
If you had read the Globe & Mail article you posted, you would have seen this:
Oatley and other veteran lawyers say they won’t be surprised if one day a social host is indeed held responsible in a situation where the facts are different from the Childs case.

“What the Supreme Court of Canada decision left open was what the result would be if the facts were altered slightly, and if all of the alcohol that was served was the host’s alcohol, and if all of the consumption by the guests was at the host’s home,” Oatley says.
“And in particular, whether there was any sort of relationship between the host of the party and the guest whereby the host would have control over the extent of the alcohol consumption and whether the guest was intoxicated upon leaving the home.”
The Linda case was different as the driver brought his own alcohol to the party.

Also this happened way back in 1999 and the case was dismissed in 2006. That was ten years ago. No telling what the courts would say today if you tell your guests to bring and consume their own alcohol at your party. It is one thing if your guests bring alcohol without your requests versus asking them to bring it.
A life spent making mistakes is not only more memorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.
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Dec 4, 2009
4076 posts
802 upvotes
Aurora
Why take personal responsibility when you can blame someone else?
"I'm a bit upset. I've been grab by the back without any alert and lubrification"
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