Know the law then make the call: Super Bowl social hosting obligations

COLUMBUS (January 31, 2017/REV. Feb. 1) Party throwers and goers take note. Super Bowl Sunday is one of the most hazardous driving days of the year, especially when it comes to driver impairment.

Those hosting parties where alcohol is served may have both a moral and legal responsibility to make sure that their guests are capable of getting back behind the wheel.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, 39 states have enacted laws or have case law that permit social hosts who serve liquor to guests who subsequently are involved in crashes to be held liable for any injury or death. Ohio law regarding social hosting pertains to underage guests. This doesn’t mean you should overlook the potential dangers of allowing any intoxicated guest back behind the wheel.

Ohio Super Bowl weekend OVI stats
According to the Ohio Highway Patrol, during the 2016 Super Bowl period of Feb. 7, 2016 at 6 a.m. through Feb. 8, 2016 at 6 a.m, Troopers made 50 OVI arrests. During the 24-hour period there were two fatalities and 156 injuries from traffic crashes. Both fatalities and 23 of the injuries were OVI-related.

See chart below (added Feb. 1):

OSHPChart

Previous year reports from the Patrol:

Sobriety checkpoints are legal in Ohio as long as public notice is given that the checkpoint will be established.

Ohioans are encouraged report dangerous or impaired drivers by texting #677.

Ohio and US impaired driving statistics
The Ohio Highway Patrol reports 12,526 alcohol-related crashes occurred in 2015, with 346 fatalities and 7,130 injuries. (Table 6.02, 2015 Crash Facts) These are increases over Ohio’s 2014 alcohol-related crash statistics showing 12,480 crashes, 297 fatalities and 7,029 injuries. (Table 6.02, 2014 Crash Facts)

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) reports that US alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities increased by 3.2 percent from 2014 to 2015, accounting for 29 percent of 2015 over-all fatalities. (Note: See Table 6 in NHTSA’s report for 2014-15 alcohol-impaired fatalities by state.)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that in 2014, 9,967 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes, accounting for nearly one-third (31%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. The CDC also reports that 28 fatalities occur daily in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver. This amounts to one death every 53 minutes, with an annual cost of alcohol-related crashes at over $44 billion.

Before you go
Before heading out for the evening, OII suggests downloading an app that links to a driving service or other mode of transportation. One such app is NHTSA’s SaferRider. By using a simple interface, the user can easily call a taxi or a pre-programmed number and identifies his/her location so they can be picked up. The app is available for Android, and Apple devices.

Tips for hosting

  • Make sure you understand your state laws. Familiarize yourself with your state’s social host liability laws.
  • Speak with an insurance professional about your homeowners coverage. Homeowners insurance usually provides some liquor liability coverage, but it’s typically limited to $100,000 or $300,000—which might not be enough.
  • Hire a professional bartender. Most bartenders are trained to recognize signs of intoxication and are better able to limit consumption by partygoers.
  • Encourage guests to pick a designated driver who will refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages in order to be able to drive other guests home.
  • Be a responsible host. Limit your own alcohol intake so that you will be better able to judge your guests’ sobriety.
  • Offer non-alcoholic beverages and always serve food. Eating and drinking plenty of water, or other non-alcoholic beverages, can help counter the effects of alcohol.
  • Do not pressure guests to drink or rush to refill their glasses when empty. And never serve alcohol to guests who are visibly intoxicated.
  • Stop serving liquor toward the end of the evening. Switch to coffee, tea and soft drinks.
  • If guests drink too much or seem too tired to drive, call a cab, arrange a ride with a sober guest or have them sleep at your home.
  • Encourage all your guests to wear seatbelts. Studies show that seatbelts save lives.
    Source: Insurance Information Institute
About
The Ohio Insurance Institute is a trade association representing insurance companies and agent groups for the property/casualty insurance industry. Its primary objective is to help Ohioans achieve a better understanding of insurance and safety issues. OII’s member companies represent over 87% of Ohio’s private passenger auto insurance market, nearly 83% of the homeowners market and over 44% of the commercial market (based on 2015 market share data from the Ohio Department of Insurance).

Resources

Contacts
Dean Fadel, Ohio Insurance Institute, 614.228.1593
Lieutenant Robert G. Sellers and Sergeant Tiffiany L. Coriell, Ohio State Highway Patrol, 614.752.2792/4195