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Social Host Responsibilities

If you are planning to host a social gathering, whether it is to celebrate the holidays, mark a special occasion, or simply to get together with friends and family, it would benefit you to understand your legal responsibilities under New Jersey’s social host liability laws.

Victor Rotolo successfully argues before the NJ Supreme Court in a case of constitutional import, in which the Court ruled that a DUI conviction cannot be used in any later DUI case for sentencing purposes if, (1) the individual plead or was found guilty, and (2) the individual was not advised of his/her right to counsel and, as to indigent individuals, the right to assigned counsel.

New Jersey has some of the most complex laws in the country governing the sale, possession and consumption of alcoholic beverages; in fact, many of these stipulations are unique to New Jersey. Some of these laws pertain to who can be held responsible for alcohol-related injuries.

Former police officer Victor Rotolo has years of experience representing clients in these matters. The attorneys at Rotolo Karch Law understand that each case is unique and requires an individual approach. They focus on the particulars of your case to help minimize the consequences.

Dram Shop Laws

Commercial establishments that serve alcohol are subject to the State’s dram shop laws. These laws allow a person injured as a result of the actions of an intoxicated person to file a claim against the establishment that served alcohol to that person provided:

  • the intoxicated person was visibly impaired when served; or
  • the server knew or should have known that the individual was under the legal drinking age.
Social Host Liability Laws

New Jersey’s social host liability laws are similar, but they pertain to individuals who provide alcohol in a private social setting. Providing alcohol, under these laws, includes making alcoholic beverages available through self-service or allowing another person to bring alcohol to the event.

Like dram shop laws, social host liability laws do not allow inebriated persons to hold the host liable for injuries they suffer from a fall, a motor vehicle accident or other incident. However, a third party injured as a result of the inebriated person’s actions can file a claim against the host for damages including:

  • medical fees,
  • hospital bills,
  • therapy and / or rehabilitation expenses,
  • lost wages,
  • pain and suffering,
  • property damage, and
  • the value of services related to household and childcare responsibilities the person would have performed if not injured.

The injured party may also seek punitive damages from the host or the host’s insurance company. That person has two years from the date of the injury to file a social host liability lawsuit under the State’s statute of limitations.

Serving Alcohol to Minors

New Jersey’s social host liability laws also state that it is illegal for adults to knowingly allow anyone under the legal age to consume alcohol on property the adult either owns or leases. In New Jersey, as in most of the country, the legal drinking age is 21. The State law does allow for exceptions to this rule:

  • persons younger than 21 can drink alcohol in connection with religious ceremonies; and
  • parents or legal guardians are allowed to serve alcohol to their own children in a private setting.

The latter exception excludes friends and acquaintances of the minor child, so parents may be faced with fines and possible jail time if their children hold a party on their property and alcohol is consumed by anyone under legal age, whether or not the adult is present on the property at the time.

Adults who violate New Jersey’s social host laws can be held liable if the underage drinker is killed or injured in an accident as a result of his or her drinking and sued for damages including medical expenses and property damages related to the accident, as well as for emotional pain and suffering.

New Jersey state laws grant substantial discretion to municipalities in regulating the sale and consumption of alcohol within their boundaries, so it would be beneficial to familiarize yourself with your local ordinances. Generally speaking, however, you can diminish your risks of being liable for alcohol-related injuries under New Jersey’s social host liability laws by providing non-alcoholic refreshments; offering alternative means of transportation or overnight accommodations; discontinuing service of alcohol to visibly impaired guests, and never serving alcohol to minors.

If you need an experienced attorney to represent you because you either knowingly or unknowingly violated New Jersey’s social host liability laws, contact Rotolo Karch Law. Likewise, if you are injured as a result of the actions of an intoxicated person, Rotolo Karch Law can help prepare your case for damages resulting from your medical expenses and pain and suffering. Our attorneys have in excess of 125 years of experience litigating personal injury lawsuits and will work to help you recover the damages you are entitled to or to defend your rights under the law. Call our offices at (908) 534-7900 to discuss the particulars of your situation.

What Our Clients are Saying

The absolute BEST!!! I have a family of attorneys but needed someone local. Victor was recommended to me and words cannot describe how pleased I was with his firm. The outstanding service and attention each member of his staff gave to me surpassed any and all expectations. Victor surrounds himself with a hardworking team that he leads. I felt it was money spent wisely. I will continue to recommend Victor and his associates.

- Stephanie

Mr. Rotolo has helped me numerous times in legal matters and has continued to support and help me through countless hardships. He is dedicated to providing the best service and is a true professional. I will continue to consult with him regarding any legal issues in the future. He is a respectable, hardworking, kind hearted man and I would recommend his legal services to anyone.

- Matthew

I am an attorney and have practiced law for 26 years. I hired Vic to handle a very difficult family matter because I do not handle family law. Vic was extremely competent and obtained a result far beyond my expectations. Without his counsel my son's and family's life would have been changed forever. Thank you Vic for your good lawyering. I very much appreciate the personal attention and time dedicated to this matter. I highly recommend Vic.

- Anthony

We recently had a situation where we needed to hire an attorney. We selected Rotolo Law Firm and I can honestly say that we were above and beyond satisfied with Vic and his team. We would absolutely recommend this firm to anyone should the need arise. We blindly picked the firm out of the phone book because I liked his ad. Now I believe that God was pointing us in the right direction. Thank you Vic and the Rotolo Law Firm for being there for us in our time of need.

- Kim

Victor's expertise, due diligence, and empathy for his client made my first experience with the law (and last) a non-stressful one. Before the case, I did my research and looked over about 20 lawyers before choosing Victor. All my sources pointed to him as the best and they weren't off even a bit. Victor treated my case like it was his own and kept me up to date with all my appointments, breakthroughs in the case, and guided me step through step in a process that I never thought that I had to come to endure. If Victor's not available Susy will go out of her way to take care you. The productivity and efficiency in that office is second to none. Thank you Victor!

- Michael