Much of the fun that comes with summer is the opportunity to get together with friends and family and enjoy the nice weather. There’s nothing better than a backyard barbecue for celebrating the season … and for competing for “best griller” bragging rights among the neighbours.
But one thing that is very important to know is that in Alberta, if you host a gathering in your home and serve liquor to someone who is then involved in a traffic accident that causes damage to property or another vehicle, or that ends up injuring someone, you could actually be found responsible (or liable) and be sued. Alberta has what is called Occupiers Liability legislation, which states that people who own or have possession of property (and yes, that includes renters) are responsible – to a certain extent – for preventing accidents and protecting people. Hosts must make sure that their property is safe to visit, and that includes the physical condition of the property, as well as the trustworthiness of the people who are invited and the type of activities involved.
If you are hosting a large event where it will be difficult to monitor alcohol consumption, you may want to speak to your insurance provider about liquor liability insurance. As mentioned, if alcohol is served at your home and someone chooses to drink and drive, you could be found responsible for any accidents.
Other ways you could be found legally liable for accidents pertaining to alcohol on your property are:
- If someone slips and falls or is injured in another way due to a preventable accident and because of alcohol consumption
- You continue to serve alcohol to an already intoxicated person
- An underage person is served alcohol on your property
Even if others bring their own alcohol, you could be found legally responsible for accidents and/or injuries. Home insurance does provide some protection, but if you feel you will be unable to monitor your guests properly, a liquor liability policy could be a very good idea. Call the knowledgeable brokers at Lane’s to learn more.
Remind People About Safety and Sobriety
Liquor liability insurance will assist with the cost of any legal ramifications due to activities that have taken place on your property. It is, however, only good after the fact. The best way to avoid litigation is to prevent an accident from happening in the first place.
If you are planning to host a large party, consider holding it off your property. Employees of rented facilities that serve alcohol are trained in its consumption, and the facility itself should be well insured against liability. Ask to see coverage plans to be positive this is the case.
For those who still want to invite their guests to the comfort of their own home, here are a few ways to keep your party under control, and safety and responsibility top of mind for everyone.
- Determine who are the designated drivers in the crowd and ensure there are plenty of non-alcoholic options available for them.
- Serve people personally so that you are aware of how much alcohol is being consumed.
- Provide plenty of food to help metabolize alcohol.
- Stop serving alcohol and start serving coffee, tea, or water well before people are set to leave.
- Do not partake in dangerous activities, such as swimming.
- Have cab vouchers available.
- Make it clear that people are welcome to stay over if needed.
Never hesitate to stop someone from driving should they appear to have had too much to drink to be operating a vehicle. Even be prepared to call the police if necessary. It may be awkward, but it is in everyone’s best interest, and could help save a life.
Drinking and Driving Should Not Be Tolerated … Ever
It does not take much to be considered a drunk driver in Alberta. New legislation enacted in 2018 states that criminally impaired drivers (those with a blood alcohol (BAC) level of 0.08) will receive an immediate driver’s licence suspension. In addition, they must complete the Planning Ahead course, and go through one year of mandatory ignition interlock program participation. Those who are caught driving with a BAC of between 0.05 and 0.08 are considered non-criminally impaired, and will receive an immediate three-day driver’s licence suspension and three-day vehicle seizure. A person weighing 120 pounds will have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.054 after two drinks, making them impaired. Three drinks will place them at 0.081, making them criminally impaired.
In addition, a federal drunk driving law implemented in late 2018 allows for police to demand a breathalyzer test from anyone they have lawfully stopped. They no longer have to have observed “cues” such as poor driving, the smell of alcohol, and red eyes.
And finally, don’t forget that you can be charged with an impaired if you are driving under the influence of cannabis. According to the Alberta government’s website, all drivers suspected of being criminally impaired through taking cannabis and driving will face an immediate 90-day suspension of their licence and an instant three-day seizure of their vehicle. They will also be required to take part in a one-year ignition interlock program as well as mandatory remedial education.
Not only does an impaired driving conviction result in a criminal record, it also results in difficulty getting car insurance in Alberta. Drivers who have been convicted of serious offences are considered “high risk,” making car insurance coverage prohibitively expensive for many.
Trust Lane’s for all Your Alberta Insurance Needs
Insurance brokers such as those of us at Lane’s are able to negotiate coverage that may not otherwise have been offered to you. Insurance brokers work for you, not for insurance companies, so both you and your broker have shared interests when it comes to finding you the best car insurance available. Contact us at 403.264.8171 today.