A bachelor party is a custom that is typically arranged by male family members or friends of the groom in order to celebrate the groom’s last days of freedom as a single man. Although there are often no set rules when it comes to the events of the party, they often include males bonding over alcohol. All attending guests should not only respect the wishes of the groom but the laws regarding alcohol. The legal drinking age is twenty-one, so as the host of a bachelor party you have the right to refuse to serve alcohol to anyone, especially those under the legal drinking age. In fact, serving alcohol to or having alcohol available for those under the age of twenty-one may lead to legal issues, especially if the minor is involved in an accident or arrested for driving under the influence after leaving the bachelor party.
Party Host Liability
The majority of states have enacted laws that allow party hosts to be liable for alcohol-related injuries that happen as a result of providing alcohol to a minor. This law includes injuries that happen to the minor as well as other individuals in which injuries or death was the result of the minor being provided alcohol. In some states, there is a more general law, known as the social host liability law, which isn’t limited to minors, but to anyone that was encouraged to consume alcohol excessively; to the point where they were injured, killed, or caused the injury or death of someone else. For this and many other reasons, it’s important to keep in mind that as the host of a bachelor party, you have the right to ask for legal identification verifying the age of the guests. In fact, it will help to defend yourself against serving or have alcohol accessible to a minor.
Out-of-State Bachelor Parties
If you are planning a bachelor party outside of your home state, it is important to be aware of the laws regarding minors in the state where the party will be held. For example, if you reside in North Carolina, but will be hosting a bachelor party in Florida, it’s essential that you understand a law known as the Open House Party Law. This law has specific regulations regarding minors and alcohol, including holding the host responsible if they fail to take the steps necessary to prevent the consumption or possession of alcoholic beverages. This law places the duty on the host as well as anyone else that is in charge of the residence to prevent the use of alcohol in their party by a minor.
For instance, if you are hosting the bachelor party, but another groomsman has arranged for the use of a private residence where the party will be held, both can be held responsible for an injury or death caused by the minor resulting from consumption of alcohol at the bachelor party.
What About BYOB Bachelor Parties?
Even if you don’t serve or provide the alcohol to minors at the bachelor party, the host of a BYOB (bring your own bottle) party that is aware of a minor being in possession of alcohol is required to prevent the consumption or possession of alcohol. The consequences vary from state to state in regard to knowledge of a minor consuming or possessing alcohol at your party. However, in many situations, as the host of the party, you may be held responsible if someone is injured in an auto accident or other incident that was caused by the minor being drunk. Along with being held criminally responsible for the accident, you may also be held liable for the injuries and other damages that resulted from the minor’s consumption or possession of alcohol.
As the host of a bachelor party, you have a duty of care to all of your guests, which means you must do everything that reasonably necessary to provide a safe environment for your guest and to help them (and you) from getting in trouble. So, in regard to asking for identification of your guests when hosting a bachelor party where alcohol will be served, it may not be a requirement, but it is highly recommended. It’s essential that you are firm and consistent when it comes to the rules of the party.
Having firm rules in place, especially with regard to the consumption of alcohol by minors will help you avoid the risk of more serious consequences in the long run. If you are confronted as a possible responsible party because a minor at the party was involved in an accident that resulted in injuries or death, it is critical that you seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer as soon as you become aware of the situation. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to review your case and explain your rights and options as the host of the bachelor party.