Halloween can be a fun time of trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins and costume parties, but this can also be a time of increased drunk driving.  Anyone hosting a Halloween party should take the proper precautions to limit their liquor liability and make sure they have adequate insurance.

Social host liability can have a serious impact on party throwers.  Social host liability laws vary widely from state to state.  In Wisconsin, when an individual invites guests to his or her house to consume alcohol, he or she usually is not liable for any alcohol-related injuries that the guests may suffer.  One of the most notable exceptions to this rule is serving alcohol to minors.  Property owners who provide alcohol to minors may be held liable for any injuries these minors cause, whether it be to themselves, or to another person. 

If you are throwing a party where alcohol is served, it is the hosts’ responsibility to make sure that guests are capable of driving home safely.  You don’t want to allow anyone who has been drinking to drive and possibly kill or injure themselves or others.

In 2008, 58 percent of all highway fatalities across the nation on Halloween night (6 p.m October 31st to 5:59 a.m. November 1st) involved a driver or a motorcycle rider with a BAC of .08 or higher, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

If you plan to host a Halloween party and serve alcohol, here are tips to have a safe and successful party:

  • Consider hiring a professional bartender or reliable friend to serve drinks.  Most bartenders are trained to recognize signs of intoxication and will limit consumption by partygoers who have had too much.
  • Be a responsible host.  Limiting your own alcohol intake will allow you to better determine if a guest is sober enough to drive at the end of the night.
  • Have non-alcoholic beverages available.
  • Don’t serve alcohol to minors. Period. The legal drinking age in every state is 21.
  • Don’t force drinks on your guests or rush to refill their glasses when empty.
  • Always serve food with alcohol. It is proven that food can help counter the effects of alcohol. 
  • Stop serving alcohol at least one hour before the party ends.  Serve only coffee, tea and non-alcoholic beverages toward the end of your party.
  • Speak to each of your guests before they leave the party.  If you think someone is unable to drive, call a cab and pay for it yourself, arrange a ride with a sober friend, drive your guest home, or encourage that person to stay over.
  • Encourage all your guests to wear seat belts as they drive home.

Information from the Insurance Information Institute