Spring is upon us at Ohio University and along with warmer weather and April showers comes May flowers and parties held by Ohio University students across campus and the City of Athens. You should be aware of the potential risks of being the host of the party.
Ohio law prohibits knowingly allowing a person under the age of 21 to drink alcohol in one’s home or apartment or providing an underage person with alcohol. This liability even extends to other accommodations, such as a hotel room, rented cabin or campground. Furthermore, the social host is also liable if he or she should have known the person was under 21. An individual found in violation of this law is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, which may be punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and/or a jail sentence up to six months. A few questions to keep in mind: Are you going to make any effort to control who enters your party? Are non-alcoholic beverages available? Social hosts not only face the risk of criminal liability, but also civil liability if one of their guests becomes intoxicated at the party, leaves that party and gets involved in a drunk driving accident in which that person or another is injured or killed. You should take precautions to avoid this type of devastating incident, including taking the keys of guests, providing escorts home, and cutting off drinks to intoxicated guests.
You should also be aware of other risks associated with hosting a party, including keeping the noise level to a minimum in order to avoid violations of the local noise ordinance and keeping the alcohol on private property in order to avoid any violation of open container laws. If a large party is held, you need to make arrangements for an adequate number of restrooms for the number of guests. Finally, you should also be aware of your rights if the police do arrive at the property. Fliers on how to legally host a party can be found on our website in the downloads section.
Melissa Greenlee, Staff Attorney