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What are hosts' responsibilities regarding underage drinking?

As the holiday season gets into full swing, many Colorado residents will be hosting parties that include minors. Even if you're cautious about not serving alcohol to minors, preventing young people in your home from gaining access to alcohol (or bringing their own) is easier said than done.

The national minimum drinking age is 21. However, state laws vary when it comes to social host liability for guests, including underage drinking, if someone is injured or killed as a result or if property damage occurs.

Here in Colorado, for a host to be held civilly liable, he or she must have intentionally served alcohol to someone under 21 or given that person a place to consume alcohol. Any civil action must be brought within a year of the incident. The maximum civil liability is $150,000.

No host wants to be responsible for any injury that is caused by a person of any age after they've had too much to drink. If you believe that one of your guests is not in any condition to drive, the best thing that you can do is take his or her keys and call an Uber. If the person is a minor, it's probably best to call the parents. Your guest may not be happy with you at the time, but you could end up saving his or her life and those of others.

If your child was injured or caused injury to someone else because a host served alcohol or allowed minors to drink alcohol, it's wise to seek legal guidance to determine what responsibility the hosts have.

Source: National Conference of State Legislatures, "Social Host Liability for Underage Drinking Statutes," accessed Dec. 07, 2016

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