It is the end of June which means school is out for the summer! But for Jane, a high school senior, it means school is out permanently. To celebrate her achievements, Jane’s parents threw a graduation party in her honor. However, some of Jane’s friends brought alcohol with them to the party. Jane was hesitant to tell her parents because she did not want to get her friends in trouble. But then they wanted to go to another friend’s house, and Jane was faced with potentially getting in a vehicle with a drunk driver.
Underage drinking and driving is an epidemic that has taken the lives of too many. In a recent year, more than 5,000 drivers under the age of 21 were arrested for a DWI in New York. In 2013, 35% of car accident fatalities were alcohol-related. In the same year, teen drivers had a 50% rate for suffering injury or death in an alcohol-related crash. If you’re hosting a graduation party this year, you can help prevent these tragedies.
Social Host Laws in New York
You may not realize, but New York State has social host laws in place. New York General Obligations Law section 11-100 and section 11-101 address dram shop and social host liability after an accident involving alcohol. These sections cover liability if the intoxicated individual is a minor or if alcohol was provided illegally.
Essentially, if the host or vendor “knowingly” caused intoxication or impairment to a person who they knew or had reason to believe was under the age of 21 or provided the alcohol “unlawfully,” then that person may have a claim brought against them.
However, if the alcohol was legally provided to a person 21 or over, a social host or alcohol vendor cannot be held liable in the state of New York. This is even if the inebriated person caused injury to another as a result of the intoxication.
5 Tips for a Safe Graduation Party
If you’re hosting a graduation party in Central New York this season, consider the following tips for a safe event:
- Remember food allergies. Before the party, ask guests if they have any allergies. Make sure you alert the party goers of ingredients in food to prevent an allergic reaction.
- Be watchful of children playing games in or around a pool. If you have a pool, enlist someone in the family to stick around and make sure there are no accidents around the water. Encourage parents to keep an eye on their children if they go swimming.
- Do not serve alcohol. High schoolers are naturally curious about alcohol, so don’t even tempt it. If there are people who are over the age of 21, consider hosting a happy hour before or after the party.
- Talk to your child about underage drinking. The best way to tackle a potential issue is to speak with your teen about it head-on. Discuss the dangers of underage drinking, getting behind the wheel while intoxicated, and the punishment of a DWI.
- Have a backup plan. Sometimes parties do not go as planned. To ensure your teen’s safety, have a backup plan, like setting up tents so they can spend the night if they have been drinking.
What to Do If You Get Injured by a Drunk Driver
If you are a victim in an accident involving a drunk driver, seek medical attention immediately. Call 911 to report the crash and obtain medical records of your injuries. Following the accident, contact a DWI lawyer who could represent you in a lawsuit against the negligent driver. This DUI attorney will be able to help you through this difficult time and get you the rightful compensation to cover medical expenses, vehicle damage, lost wages, and emotional pain and suffering.
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