The holidays are a time to relax with family and friends, though it often brings overeating and overdrinking. The police and their RIDE program patrol the roads, but they can’t catch everybody. There are accidents, sometimes deadly, when someone gets behind the wheel intoxicated. There are also accidents when pedestrians attempt to walk the road while drunk. Who’s responsible when something happens?
Every year we get clients who have been in an accident where alcohol was a factor; either they or someone else had been drinking. Although it doesn’t happen as often these days, I’ve had clients get hurt-even if they’re not driving-after drinking too much at a restaurant or bar. By law, in Ontario, a bar or restaurant is not suppose to serve alcohol to any person who appears to be impaired or intoxicated. If the bar or restaurant does, and that person leaves the bar or the restaurant and hurts someone else, then the bar or restaurant would likely be responsible for all damages caused by that customer. The bar or restaurant could also be responsible for damages suffered by the intoxicated customer.
This legal responsibility for over-serving alcohol to someone is limited to bars, restaurants, and some other very limited circumstances. It doesn’t apply to social hosts who serve alcohol in their private home, but no law is safe from change. It’s possible that the “right” case could present itself and lead to a change in the law, making social hosts responsible if their over-serving causes their guest to cause damage. But as it stands, that isn’t the case.
It’s nice to have a drink with family and friends, but please always drink responsibly. Never let yourself or someone you know drink and drive. Even cycling or walking while drunk can have serious ramifications. Be responsible and make it home safely.
Happy holidays, be well, and until next time,