Tips for good New Year's hosting

Bianca Montes By Bianca Montes

Dec. 30, 2013 at 6:30 a.m.
Updated Dec. 31, 2013 at 6:31 a.m.

Everyone has a role to play to make sure everyone gets home safe this holiday season. for people planning to serve alcoholic beverages, here are a few tips to keep your guests safe.

Know your rights

In Texas, social hosts do not hold liabilities for their intoxicated guests, as long as they are over the age of 18. Hosts have a limited liability for minors, meaning they can face criminal and civil charges for both serving alcoholic beverages to minors and damages ensued by those minors while under the influence. Minors are only allowed to possess or drink alcohol in the immediate presence of their parent or legal guardian, said Sgt. Thomas Eisman with the Victoria County Sheriff's Office.

While state law says social hosts are not liable for the action of their adult guests, attorney Jim Cole, with Cole, Cole & Easley, said a couple cases recently have brought that into question. What is referred to as a negligent undertaking may leave hosts responsible for the well being of guests.

Set expectations

Having a conversation with your guests about their plans to get home safely is one every hosts should make, said Sgt. Eline Moya, spokeswoman for the Victoria Police Department. Determining early on if your guest plans to use a designated driver, take a taxi or sleep on your couch will help avoid late-night confusion.

Last year troopers with the Texas Department of Public Safety made more than 1,200 driving while intoxicated arrests statewide during the holidays and will increase patrol this year.

While it is not the hosts legal obligation to make sure their guests do not drink and drive, Moya said to call police if you witness anyone attempting to drive under the influence.

Mix it up

There are several steps to encourage responsible drinking, providing options is key. When serving alcohol, Matt Sweatt, special event marketing director for Del Papa Distribution Company, said mix it up. Serve food - avoid salty snacks, which tend to make people thirsty - and encourage guests to mix their drinking up with non-alcoholic beverages, specifically water.

Sweatt also said when hosting a party it is important to cater to designated drivers: serve "mocktails" and have plenty of food on hand.

Mind your neighbors

If you can, take the time to let your neighbors know that you are having a party, Moya said. Tell them when the party will start, when it will end and provide a number to call if any concerns arise.

There is no curfew on noise in the city, Moya said, but unreasonable noise can be a ticketed offense.



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