Social Hosts Not Responsible for Self-Serving Drunk Drivers

New Jersey’s Supreme Court recently refused in Mazzacano v. Happy Hour Social and Athletic Club of Maple Shade, to impose a duty on social hosts to monitor potential intoxicated drivers who serve themselves alcohol at a gathering. The decision creates a boundary line in the liability exposure for those who organize social events where alcohol is supplied for consumption of event goers.

There have been a variety of commentators on the decision.  Plaintiff lawyers claim that the decision shall encourage DWI.  On the other hand, defense attorneys are taking the position that the ruling is nothing more than reinforcement of what they already believed the law to be.  In either respect, the law is now clear that there exists no duty to monitor the alcohol intake of guests who serve themselves such as, in this case, where patrons utilize self-serve taps on a beer truck.

As an individual who has been embroiled in these types of issues for almost two decades, I find it hard to believe that the ruling will have any real effect on the incidents of DWI in NJ.  In fact, if someone is already to the point that they are visibly intoxication (e.g. supposed trigger point for withholding additional alcohol), it is probably too late to accomplish much in terms of preventing these awful outcomes.    

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