Quality Legal Services For New Jersey’s Citizens

Does New Jersey have a social host liability law?

On Behalf of | May 17, 2024 | Car Accidents

Summer is just about officially here – and that means that you can expect a lot of summer festivities. 

Backyard barbecues, Fourth of July parties, birthdays and family reunions are often the highlight of the season – and all of them usually involve drinking. Unfortunately, the drinking can sometimes get out of hand, and guests may end up behind the wheel while intoxicated when they leave

If a drunk driver causes a wreck and injures someone else on their way home from a party, New Jersey’s law may hold both the driver and their host responsible for the victim’s losses.

When is this possible?

In general, a liable “social host” is anyone not covered under a liquor license (like a bartender) who provides alcohol to an adult guest of legal drinking age in a negligent manner. They can generally be held liable for personal injuries caused by that guest when:

  • Their guest was visibly intoxicated, which could be demonstrated through any number of clear signs. For example, if the host of a family barbecue watched his brother drink six jello shots in an hour, and the brother was stumbling around and slurring his words before climbing into their truck, those are visible signs of intoxication.
  • They either created a situation that led to an unreasonable chance of foreseeable harm or failed to take any action to mitigate the risks. For example, the host handed his brother the last three jello shots or realized that his brother was too drunk to drive but made no attempt to take his keys or alert the authorities that his brother was on the road.
  • Their intoxicated guest caused a motor vehicle accident that led to someone else’s injuries.

It’s important to note that, under this state’s laws, social hosts cannot be held responsible for the actions of their guests if their blood alcohol content (BAC) level was less than .10%, which is above the legal limit for driving. It’s considered an irrebuttable presumption that someone would have to be more inebriated than that before they were “visibly” drunk.

If you’re injured in a wreck with a drunk driver this summer, it may be wise to explore all the potential avenues for compensation.