POLICE ASSOCIATION OF NOVA SCOTIA 41 The Responsible Host In May 2006, the Supreme Court of Canada passed its decision on a tragic impaired driving case: social hosts of parties do not owe a duty of care to members of the public who may be injured by an intoxicated guestʼs conduct. In the early hours of January 1, 1999, a drunk driver crashed head-on into a car, killing a young man and seriously injuring a young woman, who is now a paraplegic. The woman tried to sue the hosts of the party which the driver had just left. The event that led to the crash was a New Yearʼs party. However, many other occasions trigger parties — for example, the Stanley Cup and the Grey Cup. In fact, impaired driving peaks in the summer, when people drink at outdoor terraces, festivals, golf, barbecues and other vacation activities. Whatever the Supreme Court decides, the Canada Safety Council recommends that party hosts monitor and supervise the service and consumption of alcohol. If you plan to host a party, check your insurance to see if it covers any incident that may occur on (or as a result of actions on) your property. The Canada Safety Council offers some practical advice: 1. Either donʼt drink or limit your own consumption of alcohol so you can be aware of how much your guests are drinking. 2. Know your guests – it is much easier to track the changes in behaviour of those you know. Inviting strangers increases risk. 3. Monitor and supervise the serving of alcohol. Designate non-drinkers to do this. A “bartender” should control the size and number of drinks. 4. Keep the focus off alcohol. Serve a lot of food that has protein and fat – salt encourages more drinking and sugar does not mix well with alcohol. For drinks, offer non-alcoholic choices. 5. See guests in and out. Greet all guests on arrival and departure, taking the opportunity to assess their condition. 6. If a guest is drunk, encourage him or her to give you their car keys. Buddy up with a friend to persuade the intoxicated person to take a cab. 7. Keep the phone numbers of cab companies handy and tell the guest that a cab has been ordered. Donʼt give the option to refuse. 8. If the guest is very drunk, keep that person with you until they have sobered or can be left with a sober responsible person. 9. Only time will sober the person, not more fluids or food. Offering a spare bed is a good recourse. 10. If the person refuses to hand over the car keys or spend the night at your house, call the police. This may seem drastic, but it may be the choice between an upset friend or far more tragic consequences. Having a plan helps you prevent problems (or at least handle them in the least unpleasant way) and hopefully enjoy your own party. © 2006 Canada Safety Council Canada Safety Council C A N A D A ’ S V O I C E A N D R E S O U R C E F O R S A F E T Y