Party hosts may be held legally liable under Florida’s criminal social host law or in a personal injury lawsuit for any injuries or damages caused by a drunk and underaged party guest. Social hosts in Florida violate the social host law when they know that an underage person possesses an alcohol beverage or drug and does not take reasonable action to prevent their possession or consumption. An adult can rescind their violation by taking a reasonable action to prevent the minor’s possession or consumption of the beverage or drug.
Violations can occur at an open house party, which is a social gathering at a residence. A person covered by this law is an adult who is at least 18-years-old. The law covers parties at a home, apartment, condominium or other dwelling unit. Violations are a criminal misdemeanor of the second degree. Adults may have to pay a fine of up to $500 or be imprisoned for up to 60 days.
Florida’s social host law also provides for private civil lawsuits. Two actions provide liability when there is any injury or damage caused by the guest’s intoxication. First, a person who willfully and illegally sells or provides alcoholic beverages to an underage person may be liable. Additionally, a lawsuit may be filed against a person who served alcohol to a person they know is habitually addicted to alcohol. Local municipalities may also have ordinances that govern this issue. These can have additional fines or penalties for violations. Social hosts, along with the person who caused the harm or damage, may be held responsible in a private lawsuit for compensation or other damages.