Personal Responsibility is a Must
What is a private event (you and the law)?
A private event is an activity that is held by a private person who provides accommodations at no charge. You can think of it much in the same as a private party at your home. A large event may be a private party, but it still will have the same components as a party in your home.
Before posting an event, let's consider the most restrictive legal situation when deciding whether it will be a private party or require a government permit:
- In the majority of jurisdictions they ask if the event is open to the public or not? The answer must be no. An event is clearly public if it is advertised in any public venue, such as newspaper, radio, television, or flyers/posters in public places. It also qualifies as public if a person not on the original guest list can acquire an invitation through purchase of a membership, ticket, or any other item that gains him or her admission to the event. (TOUTout.net℠ is not a public forum, advertiser, or commercial operation. It is a private not-for-profit information-sharing network only availble to registered members.)
- Your guest list must contain names of specific individuals and be limited in number. While this number may be large, you as a host are still required to know the names on the list, and to ensure that only those invited attend the event. (When you post a TOUTout℠, you are sending an invitation to all of your information-sharing friends on the TOUTout.net℠ network. You receive notification of all those who accept your invitation, providing you with a list of guests from your TOUTout.net℠ information-sharing friends.)
- If a person who is not on the invited guest list contacts you and asks to be invited and you agree, then the event has just become open to the public. (At TOUTout.net℠, no will ever ask to be invited to your event. You send out invitations to registered subscribers within your community who then choose to accept or ignore the invite.)
- Your invitations may be directed to a particular individual only, an individual plus a guest, or an individual plus specified guests. An example would be a company holiday party, where employees and their families are invited. You as a host have an expectation of how many guests an employee may bring. (Only registered members of the TOUTout.net℠ network who are located within your postal area zone receive invites. You receive notification for every invitation that is accepted. This gives you a clear idea of how many guests from the TOUTout.net℠ network can be expected. You can stop your invitations at any time.)
- You may not charge for alcohol in any way. This includes accepting donations or charging for admission. (Commercial events, or events taken for gain, are strictly forbidden from using the TOUTout.net℠ network to post invites. Fruther, TOUTout.net℠ is not responsible for the happenings at any of its subscribers events.)
- The host cannot provide a location, glassware, or mixers for a recurring event. (In addition to be the law in nearly all jurisdictions, subscribers are prohibted per policy and the design of the platform from posting multiple events on a recurring basis.)
If your event does not qualify as either an exempt event or a private party, you probably need a Special Event Permit. This is especially true of if alcohol will be served. In any situation, your participation in the TOUTout.net℠ network should not impact your legal rights related to any private event you post.
Mind the rules and regulations
Check your lease or homeowner's association rules about hosting gatherings in your home and/or out on the lawn. If you don't own your home, you need to know the answer to "Can renters throw a party?" before you even consider inviting anyone over.
Also, consider the latest official guidance for gatherings from the Centers for Disease Control, plus any state or county regulations that may be in force.
Check your insurance coverage
Even a quiet gathering can sometimes lead to an accident, such as a guest injury or property damage. If you're serving alcohol, your liability can be even greater. Be familiar with the house party laws and regulations in your state, and contact your insurance agent for details about liability insurance.
Must-dos before you host your gathering
Birthdays, anniversaries, the last day of school, a sporting event, the end of a year--the reasons to host a party are as varied as the food, drink and entertainment you might provide. But as fun as a party can be, you also have a responsibility to avoid house-party dangers. COVID-19 has made get-togethers a bit trickier, and it's important to be sure everyone coming is informed and comfortable with the party details.
Social host hiability
If you're planning to serve alcohol at your home take steps to limit your liquor liability and make sure you have the proper insurance.
Social host liability is the legal term for the criminal and civil responsibility of a person who furnishes liquor to a guest. Social host liability can have serious consequences for party throwers.
Social host liability law
Also known as "Dram Shop Liability," social host liability laws vary widely from state to state, but 43 states have them on the books. Most of these laws also offer an injured person, such as the victim of a drunk driver, a method to sue the person who served the alcohol. There are circumstances under these laws where criminal charges may also apply.
While a social host is not liable for injuries sustained by a drunken guest (as the guest is also negligent), the host can be held liable for harm to third parties, and even for passengers of the guest who have been injured in their car. In Colorado, for example, the State Liquor Code only specifies how alcoholic beverages may be sold or served to the public. Therefore, there is no description in state law of a private party.
Social host liability-insurance considerations
Homeowners insurance usually provides some liquor liability coverage, but limits are typically $100,000 to $300,000, which, depending on your assets, might not be enough. Before planning a party in your home, speak to your insurance professional to review your homeowners coverage for any exclusions, conditions or limitations your policy might have that would affect your social liability risk.
Protect yourself and your guests
Remember that a good host is a responsible host. If you plan to serve alcohol at a party, promote safe alcohol consumption and take these steps to reduce your social host liability exposure:
- Make sure you understand your state laws. These laws vary widely from state to state. Some states do not impose any liability on social hosts. Others limit liability to injuries that occur on the host's premises. Some extend the host's liability to injuries that occur anywhere a guest who has consumed alcohol goes. Many states have laws that pertain specifically to furnishing alcohol to minors.
- Consider venues other than your home for the party. Hosting your party at a restaurant or bar with a liquor license, rather than at your home, will help minimize liquor liability risks.
- Hire a professional bartender. Most bartenders are trained to recognize signs of intoxication and are better able to limit consumption by partygoers.
- Encourage guests to pick a designated driver who will refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages so that he or she can drive other guests home.
- Limit your own alcohol intake as a responsible host/hostess, so that you will be better able to judge your guests' sobriety.
- Offer non-alcoholic beverages and always serve food. Eating and drinking plenty of water, or other non-alcoholic beverages, can help counter the effects of alcohol.
- Do not pressure guests to drink or rush to refill their glasses when empty. And never serve alcohol to guests who are visibly intoxicated.
- Stop serving liquor toward the end of the evening. Switch to coffee, tea and soft drinks.
- If guests drink too much or seem too tired to drive home, call a cab, arrange a ride with a sober guest or have them sleep at your home.
- Encourage all your guests to wear seatbelts as they drive home. Studies show that seatbelts save lives.
Be a good neighbor
Let your neighbors know in advance about the event and talk about any issues it could cause with parking. Share your number so they can contact you first with any concerns. Try to confine the meet-and-greet to indoors or the backyard. Let guests know where they should park, and make sure any garbage left in your or your neighbors' yards, or public spaces like hallways, is cleaned up right away. Monitor music and the crowd so you stay within the limits of noise level/control laws and ordinances.
Protect your pets
Strangers and loud noises in a usually quiet home may frighten pets. Help reduce their anxiety by crating your pup or putting your cat behind a closed door--especially while guests are arriving and leaving. Make sure guests know there are pets on the premises and any closed doors should remain closed.
Food safety tips
Take special care with the food you provide: Wash your hands before and during prepping. Keep raw meat away from other foods, cook foods to proper temperatures and keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold. It's a good idea to let guests know in advance if food will be catered or homemade, and what COVID-19 safety precautions will be taken during preparation and presentation, so they can feel comfortable attending.
Care for the kids
Unless it's a family focused soiree, consider hiring someone to keep an eye on any little ones. And be sure to take additional safety precautions if you have a swimming pool. If your area is following social-distancing guidelines, you may want to consider limiting your party to adults. Children can have a harder time remembering and following through on rules.
Play it safe: Lock up prescription medications and any electronics or valuables. Also, safely stash guests' belongings (coats, bags) during the party.
Monitor the drive home
At least one hour before the party wraps up, stop serving alcohol and serve additional snacks. Organize rides or ride shares, as necessary.
Share your experience
After a gathering is over, participants can go to https://toutout.net to leave reviews and share their experience. Be a good host.
Your feedback about this page, and how it can be imroved, is important. If you have any questions, comments, concerns, or suggestions please feel free to contact KLOKi radio.