Group of friends sleeping in sofa outdoors after party

Social Host Liability Laws and Drugs

McCready Law Group June 9, 2023

If you hosted a party at your home and, after the party, one of the guests who consumed drugs got into an accident that caused injuries to another person, you might be worried about your potential liability for the victim’s injuries. 

In this situation, it is essential to understand California’s social host liability laws and how they apply to drug consumption. As a criminal defense attorney at McCready Law Group, I help people avoid liability when they face accusations under California’s social host liability laws. I have an office in Long Beach, California, but also serve clients in Lakewood, Cypress Hill, and the surrounding areas.  

What Is Social Host Liability?

If you are someone who regularly hosts parties at your home, you need to understand California’s social host liability laws and how they may affect you in the event one of your guests causes injuries to another person after consuming alcohol or drugs at your party. 

Under California law, those who host a party or gathering at their home and furnish (serve) alcoholic beverages to persons under the legal drinking age can be held liable for any resulting injuries and damages such persons cause. 

It is critical to exercise caution when hosting any parties or gatherings at your home where alcohol or drugs will be served.  

Who Can Be Held Liable Under Social Host Liability Laws?

Any adult, including parents and guardians, can be held liable under social host liability laws when they furnish alcoholic beverages to those under the legal drinking age. Social host liability applies to social hosts who knew or should have known that their guest has not reached the age of 21.  

When social host liability applies, the social host can be held liable for the underage guest’s actions and damages caused to others. When a social host knowingly furnishes alcoholic beverages to a person under the age of 21, the social host can be held liable for: 

  • Injuries and damages suffered by the underage guest; and 

  • Injuries and damages caused by the underage guest to others.  

For example, if an adult social host knowingly furnishes alcohol to a 19-year-old guest, who then leaves the party and causes a car accident while under the influence, the social host could be held liable for any injuries and damages suffered by the underage guest and other persons involved in the crash.  

Can You Be Held Liable for Someone Doing Drugs in Your Home & Then Getting in an Accident?

In some cases, adult social hosts can be held liable even if they do not provide alcohol or drugs to their underage guests or are not aware that these substances are present at the party. If someone is doing drugs in your home, you could face criminal liability as the owner of the home. Homeowners can face criminal charges unless they can prove that:

  • The drugs belong to someone else (e.g., the guest who consumed the drugs); or 

  • They did not know that drugs were present.  

If your guest consumed marijuana at your party, you need to understand California laws regarding marijuana use. According to the California Department of Cannabis Control, both medical and recreational use of marijuana is legal in the state. In California, individuals aged 18 and older can legally buy medical marijuana through a physician’s recommendation, while individuals aged 21 and older can legally purchase and smoke recreational marijuana.  

Why You Should Work With an Attorney

If someone consumed drugs in your home and got into an accident, it is essential to have an experienced attorney on your side to protect your legal rights. A skilled attorney will help you understand the law and how it applies to your case, investigate the accident, and gather evidence to shield you from liability for any potential damages your guests cause to themselves or other people.  

Practical & Purposeful Legal Advocacy 

If one of your guests consumed alcohol or drugs at your party and then caused an accident resulting in injuries or damages, you may face liability under California’s social host liability laws. As an experienced criminal defense attorney at McCready Law Group, I can provide you with the legal advocacy you need when concerned about potential liability for an intoxicated guest’s actions. Contact my office to discuss your case during a consultation.

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