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Holiday parties and alcohol: An unsafe mix that will happen

It's hard to come by solid estimates about how many drivers, at any given time, are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Suffice it to say, they are out there. And Pennsylvania authorities know that there are certain days of the week, and certain times of the day, when the numbers run higher.

Police try to anticipate the influx and prevent accidents by drunk drivers that can leave victims injured or dead. But they can only do so much. When drunk drivers do cause accidents, they deserve to be held accountable. Those retailers who choose to serve patrons to the point of clear intoxication should expect to face responsibility, too.

This is something worth keeping in mind at this particular time of year, when so many holiday parties are taking place.

It's important to know that every state has differing laws regarding the level of liability that can be assigned to others for the negligence of drunk drivers. In Pennsylvania, as noted by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the dram shop law extends liability to establishments that sell alcohol to drunk patrons or minors. Hosts of parties who serve minors can also be held liable if those guests drive drunk.

With that in mind, here are some specific thoughts for potential business hosts to consider on how to keep their guests safe.

  • Consider a mid-week party. Chances are good that workers will be less inclined to overdo their drinking if the next day is a work day like all the others.
  • Limit consumption. Consider serving only beer or wine. Consumption might also be controlled somewhat by issuing a limited number of drink tickets or offering a cash bar. Some individuals might bring their own booze, but doing something is better than nothing.
  • Arrange for transportation. Offer to pay for cabs. Provide shuttle service. In some cases, organizing carpools with designated drivers might be feasible. Consider all possibilities.

Ultimately, we all have a duty to act responsibly for our own sakes and the sake of others.

Source: The Huffington Post, "The Small-Business Owner's Guide to Safe Holiday Parties," Ted Devine, Dec. 6, 2013

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