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Are You Responsible For New Year’s Eve Guests Who Drink?

(Credit: KDKA)

(Credit: KDKA)

Jon Delano Jon Delano
Jon Delano is a familiar face on KDKA-TV, having been the station's...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Bartender Daniel Hightower has been serving drinks for more than 12 years and knows on New Year’s Eve the party mood can take over.

“Nobody thinks they’ve had too much, put it that way. A lot of people think they can take two or three more,” Hightower says.

But drinking too much and driving is not only illegal, but often very costly.

Attorney Michael Rosenzweig, litigation chief at Edgar Snyder & Associates, brings many lawsuits on behalf of those injured.

“It happens often around the holidays — Christmas, New Year’s,” Rosenzweig told KDKA’s Jon Delano.

But what if you’re hosting a party at your own home and one of your adult guests drinks too much and hits the road. Are you responsible?

“In Pennsylvania, there is no adult to adult social host liability,” says Rosenzweig. “Adults are responsible for themselves and you can’t be sued by either the adult if they injure themselves or injure somebody else.”

But the law is very different if minors — those under 21 — are at your family party. Allowing them to drink — even behind your back — could land you in jail for a year and worse.

“If someone would go out and either get into an accident and have a fatal injury themselves or perhaps … cross over and hit someone coming the other way, then you can be charged with murder,” Rosenzweig said.

Rosenzweig says keep the alcohol and beer keg under adult supervision at all times or hire a professional bartender willing to card and say no.

Hightower says he’s especially careful bartending those home parties.

“A younger person is more capable at one of those kinds of parties to try come get a drink off you rather than walking into a restaurant,” says Hightower.

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