Texas social host liability is the general term for Texas law regarding the serving of alcohol. The general rule is that a party host is not responsible for the actions of guests who consume alcohol. However, Texas passed legislation in 2005 that extends liability to party hosts who provide alcohol to underage minors.
Party Hosts Generally
The general rule is that a party host is not liable for the actions of adults who drink alcohol at a party. This is distinct from the way Texas law treats bars and restaurants, holding them liable alongside a drunk driver for damages.
Texas Social Host Law
The Texas social host law is in Section 2.02 of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code. It holds party hosts liable in two circumstances: if the hosts knowingly serve alcohol to minors on their property, or if the hosts supply car keys to an intoxicated adult on the host’s property. The law requires knowledge by the host of the minor’s age. Without actual knowledge of the minor’s age, a party host will not be liable so long as the host’s assumption is reasonable.
Violation of the Texas social host law is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to $4,000 in fines and up to one year incarceration under Section 12.21 of the Texas Penal Code.
Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code – Section 2.02. Causes Of Action
§ 2.02. CAUSES OF ACTION. (a) This chapter does not affect the right of any person to bring a common law cause of action against any individual whose consumption of an alcoholic beverage allegedly resulted in causing the person bringing the suit to suffer personal injury or property damage.
(b) Providing, selling, or serving an alcoholic beverage may be made the basis of a statutory cause of action under this chapter and may be made the basis of a revocation proceeding under Section 6.01(b) of this code upon proof that:
(1) at the time the provision occurred it was apparent to the provider that the individual being sold, served, or provided with an alcoholic beverage was obviously intoxicated to the extent that he presented a clear danger to himself and others; and
(2) the intoxication of the recipient of the alcoholic beverage was a proximate cause of the damages suffered.
(c) An adult 21 years of age or older is liable for damages proximately caused by the intoxication of a minor under the age of 18 if:
(1) the adult is not: (A) the minor’s parent, guardian, or spouse; or (B) an adult in whose custody the minor has been committed by a court; and
(2) the adult knowingly: (A) served or provided to the minor any of the alcoholic beverages that contributed to the minor’s intoxication; or (B) allowed the minor to be served or provided any of the alcoholic beverages that contributed to the minor’s intoxication on the premises owned or leased by the adult.