Social Host Liability in Minnesota

Jeffrey S. Sieben - SiebenCarey "Know Your Rights" AttorneyNovember 24, 2014

With the holidays upon us, many people will be hosting parties and serving alcohol to guests. Could party hosts be liable for the actions of their guests? 

In Minnesota, host liability is limited to situations involving minors as guests. There is no civil cause of action against a social host who provides alcohol to those who are 21 years of age or older.

Liability for providing alcohol to minors is spelled out in the Social Host Liability Act (Minn. Stat. section 340A.90). The Act holds that adults who provide or serve alcohol to a minor can be held liable if the minor injures or kills another person. It is not necessary for the adult to actually serve or supply the alcohol. It’s enough if the host has control over the premises and is in a position to prevent the underage drinking but knowingly and recklessly permits the consumption. 

The biggest changes in the area of social host law of late are in the criminal arena. Cities and counties are now passing criminal social host laws making it illegal to provide a location for a party and know that underage drinking is taking place. 

The obvious takeaway is that parents of teenagers need to be especially vigilant and proactive when it comes to drinking in the home.

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