Should Hosts Be Responsible For Guests Drinking Driving ?

View Poll Results: Should Hosts Be Reponsible For Guests' Drinking And Driving?
Yes 2 22.22%
No 7 77.78%
Voters: 9. You may not vote on this poll

There's this interesting article about parties and drinking and driving.

Top court to rule whether hosts are liable for drunk driving of party guest

Sun Apr 30, 01:17 PM EST

OTTAWA (CP) - Here's something to ponder before you throw your next house party, family reunion or birthday bash: If one of your guests drives home drunk and gets into an accident, are you legally liable for the resulting carnage?

The Supreme Court of Canada will go a long way toward answering that question this week, in a ruling that could make people think twice about the way they socialize.

At issue is a lawsuit filed by Zoe Childs, an Ottawa-area woman who was 18 years old when a drunk driver smashed into the car she was riding in early on the morning of Jan. 1, 1999.

Her boyfriend Derek Dupre was killed and Childs was left a paraplegic.

The driver of the other car, Desmond Desormeaux, then 39, was a self-confessed alcoholic with two previous impaired-driving convictions who had just left a New Year's Eve party.

Desormeaux was called a "ticking time bomb" by the judge who sentenced him to 10 years in prison on criminal charges arising from the crash.

Childs launched a separate civil suit claiming $6 million in damages against Desormeaux and the two hosts of the New Year's party, Dwight Courrier and Julie Zimmerman.

Desormeaux, however, has virtually no financial assets, so the full burden of damages could fall on Courrier and Zimmerman if they are held liable.

The Supreme Court, in a landmark 1995 judgment, ruled that bars, restaurants and other commercial purveyors of alcohol have a "duty of care" - not only to the people doing the drinking, but also to third parties such as the drivers they may encounter later on the highway.

That means bar owners can be held liable if, for example, they keep serving an obviously drunk customer and do nothing to prevent him from driving home.

A key issue in the Childs case is whether so-called social hosts - private citizens, as opposed to commercial establishments - are bound by the same rules.

Evidence in the lower courts showed Desormeaux probably consumed 10 to 12 beers in two hours at the New Year's party. His blood alcohol level was three times the legal limit.

There were conflicting opinions, however, on how drunk he appeared to his hosts and fellow guests. Most said he seemed all right to them.

That's not as strange as it may seem, according to toxicology expert Howard Cappell. He testified that alcoholics, because of their higher tolerance for drink, may not slur their words or stumble down the stairs in obvious signs of intoxication.

"There is often a disconnection between the blood alcohol level and the signs the person displays," Cappell told a civil trial before Justice James Chadwick of Ontario Superior Court.

Desormeaux admitted he knew he was over the legal limit but "I figured it was only a 15-minute ride and it was all back roads."

Zimmerman and Courrier said they didn't know how much their friend was drinking because they didn't serve him. It was a BYOB - bring your own bottle - party.

But Barry Laushway, the lawyer for Childs, argued they should have kept him from driving based on past history alone.

Courrier, in particular, "knew Mr. Desormeaux was an alcoholic and that he had a very, very serious drinking problem," said Laushway.

Chadwick concluded that, if he were apportioning blame, he would hold Desormeaux 85 per cent responsible for the crash that injured Childs and the party hosts 15 per cent responsible.

But the judge did not, in fact, hold Zimmerman and Courrier liable.

He ruled it would put an "intolerable burden on all social hosts" to expect them to police the alcohol consumption of each and every guest.

If the Ontario government believes otherwise, said Chadwick, the province should pass legislation making hosts clearly liable rather than leaving it to the courts.

Ontario Court of Appeal, in reviewing the case, also rejected Childs' claim for damages, but for different legal reasons.

The three-judge panel said that, based on the particular circumstances of this case, the hosts couldn't be found liable.

But others, in different circumstances, could well be held to account.

"This judgment should not be interpreted to mean that social hosts are immune from liability," wrote Justice Karen Weiler.

"I do not foreclose social host liability to innocent third parties, particularly when it is shown that a social host knew that an intoxicated guest was going to drive a car and did nothing to protect the innocent third-party users of the road."

The Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments last December, delivers its judgment this Friday.

Even if Childs wins, it's not clear how much she can collect in damages. That would have to be sorted out at further hearings in the lower courts.


What do you think?
Okay, sorry i didn't create a link. I'm not exactly sure how to do it.
If someone could help me out with that, i would appreciate it.

But, the idea, in a nutshell, is that if you hosted a party where people were drinking and someone drove home while intoxicated, you could end up being legally responsible should they get into an accident. I'm asking what your opinion is on this.

I myself am not sure exactly what to think of it.

I don't think it's right to let someone drive home while inebriated but if they themselves choose to drive i'm not sure if it should come down on the people who hosted the party.
When I have guests over for dinner or friends are visiting I don't allow people to drink and drive. I have a one drink limit, if you go over the limit you are Not driving. Like the slogan says "Friends don't let friends drink and drive".
well, see that's just it. At my place, if people are drinking we usually make it a sleep over. I guess maybe that's why i don't know what to think because i've never been faced with that kind of a situation. My friends haven't been stupid enough to do something like that.

Besides, sleep overs are fun! That way everybody's at ease and they just let themselves have a good time.
Mag, just put the entire url in your post. It will format automatically.

Links are quite easy to do. All you have to know is how to copy and paste.

(url= link(/url) with these brackets [ ] would get you link (external - login to view)

Hope that helps.. I used a short telus url but it will work on all urls, long or short.
Okay, let's see.... (external - login to view)
#8 (external - login to view)

[ (external - login to view)]
Shoot ...

link (external - login to view)
I made you a link on the previous post.....cheers
Thanks #Juan. I appreciate it!

Now i just need to figure out how to do it myself.

If you click on the BBcode under options you will find good explanations for making links and other BBcode stuff.
I'm never drinking at SassyLassies'.

Are you responsible? Hell, they're your friends, why would you push a staggering friend out the door to the car and put them at risk on the road? YES, you're responsible, perhaps that's why they made it a law?? Sorry to put those of you out who have a problem with it.

I let people get tanked, and take their keys away and put them up for the night.

Another thing I changed where I live was this dumb-assed habit of people having parties on Sunday. Nobody needs to loose a day at work or feel like crap until Wednesday because of too much Peukeweiser. Make your party on Saturday, so nobody's going to battle with you over spending the night, and everybody has a quiet Sunday to recover - or the party can rage through lunch with the alcohol cutoff at daybreak.....

Mag, if you simply put the link in like this (no tags):

you will get this: (external - login to view)
Yes, of course they should be responsible for their guests. they are responsible for them in their home, so if they serve them to much alcohol, and the guy or girl gets behind the wheel and kills someone, it should go out of the pocketbook of the person sponsoring the alcoholic event.
There was a time in my life when I had to deal with a similar problem. I was divorcing my husband, and he started drinking heavily, and I was really upset about it and I stared blaming myself. And my husband's sister, who is a psychiarist, told me - you can't live his life for him. He will have to live it himself, so let him be responsible for the choices he makes and for everything he does. And I think that it is the right way - you can't be responsible for what another person does. It might sound cruel but it is true - someone might get real drunk after he leaves your house, and there is no way you can prevent it. Everyone is reponsible for him/herself. It's useless to try to take the responsibility upon yourself.

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