'Tis the Season of Spirits
We are now well into the holiday season of 2013.
Spirits of the liquid variety are flowing more than usual and that means an increased likelihood of being involved in a Driving While Impaired situation whether as perpetrator or victim.
Business owners where alcohol is served are typically well versed in their legal requirements to prevent “over serving” or even serving to an already intoxicated individual. Home owners or small businesses where parties with alcohol are often not as well versed and may not even realize that they can be held financially and legally accountable for the behavior of someone who leaves their home or business intoxicated.
Hosts of such events should take a number of steps to avoid being in the position of financial ruin due to an intoxicated individual leaving their premises. While, for the host, it may take some of the fun out of the planning process and the event, I assure you it will be less fun answering in a courtroom to both criminal and civil charges.
To help avoid such an outcome, hosts of parties could follow some or all of the following suggestions:
1) Limit the drinking time at the event where alcohol is not served for a period of time prior to the end of the event. Try to stop alcohol serving an hour before the advertised end of the party.
2) Always provide non-alcoholic beverages for your attendees and encourage the use of them.
3) Always provide food - especially foods rich in protein such as cheeses, nuts, etc. Any food in the stomach will absorb alcohol and help reduce a rapid rise in blood alcohol levels. Foods, such as cheeses, absorb more alcohol than do other types of foods so be sure to have plenty of them on hand. Rather than worrying about keeping a stocked bar, keep a stocked food tray. Drinking on an empty stomach will result in a rapid rise in blood alcohol levels and will take longer to disperse from the body.
4) Before the event, avoid publicizing it either formally or informally as a drinking bash. Set the tone early for a pleasant gathering of friends and not a drunken gathering.
5) Educate yourself to the early signs of intoxication and take steps to offer alternative non-alcoholic beverages to persons that you see becoming inebriated. The early effects of alcohol occurring by the .04 level are impaired judgment and loss of inhibition control. Staggering, slurred speech, etc. come at higher levels of blood alcohol levels. Keep in mind that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Be aware that some of your guests may arrive after they have already been drinking and therefore will be adding to their blood alcohol levels at your event.
6) Don’t encourage and don’t tolerate drunkenness. If one of your guests gets to this point of intoxication, take quiet but clear steps to eliminate their alcohol intake and encourage them to sit it out for a while. In individuals with healthy livers, the body will remove about .015 percent of alcohol per hour and there is nothing you can do to speed up the process of metabolization.
7) Should an intoxicated individual attempt to leave your premises and drive away, enlist help in stopping them by whatever means possible short of putting yourself in harm’s way of an agitated and intoxicated individual. Take their keys, find a responsible sober person to get them home, call a taxi for them – whatever it takes to protect them and the public. The person may get mad at you at the moment but that is much better in the long run than going to their or someone else’s funeral.
8) If you simply cannot stop the person from driving, tell them you are calling law enforcement and then DO IT! Get a good description of the vehicle, tag number if you can, and the direction of travel. Don’t get yourself caught up in feeling bad that you called law enforcement on them. As the old saying goes, “the life you save, may be …. theirs, your neighbor coming home, your child, or some other citizen going about their business.”
By doing all of these steps, you will hopefully have set the tone for a pleasant gathering of friends. If worse comes to worse, however, and you have to defend yourself against a terrible outcome, these steps will show that you took your responsibility as a host seriously and took reasonable steps to protect the perpetrator and the victim. Your attorney will appreciate your planning ahead!
For assistance with behavioral change related to the use of alcohol or drugs, please contact me at Barrett & Yount, Assessments By Yount, 66 Walnut St., Waynesville or visit my website at www.assessmentsbyyount.org. To schedule an appointment, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 828-454-5253.