Many people in New Jersey ask, “I had a small party at my house and one of my guests drank alcohol and later got into a car accident, am I liable?” New Jersey homeowners also ask, “Can I get in trouble serving alcohol to a minor?” The short answer to both is yes.
In recent years society has become less tolerant of drunk driving and underage drinking, with many organizations taking on active roles in politics resulting in the passage of stringent laws related to alcohol. New Jersey is no exception. There is a strong public policy in New Jersey against serving minors and intoxicated adults.
First, hosts in New Jersey should be aware to never serve minors any alcohol. In New Jersey serving alcohol to a minor is disorderly persons offense and, depending on the circumstances, can also be a more serious criminal offense of endangering the welfare of a minor.
Further, in 1987 New Jersey passed a law on “social host liability,” making a host liable for injuries to a third-party for a guest’s actions if the host serves a guest, twenty-one years of age or older, alcohol when that person is “visibly intoxicated.” Therefore, if you serve alcohol in your home you should be aware of signs of intoxication, and, if they exist, you should immediately stop serving any “visibly intoxicated” person alcohol.