Keeping safe during this change in your life


Phillips Law Firm would like to congratulate all the new graduates of 2012! With celebrations and family gatherings on the rise this June it is important to be on the lookout for drunk drivers, and to learn about the potential legal risks associated with hosting a graduation party.

Don’t Serve Alcohol to Minors:

If you serve alcohol to minors you could be the subject of criminal prosecution, including negligence. The minor involved and their parents can pursue claims against you. Even if you are trying to be a great host, never put yourself at this legal risk. RCW 66.44.270 states, “It is unlawful for any person to sell, give, or otherwise supply liquor to any person under the age of twenty-one years or permit any person under that age to consume liquor on his or her premises or on any premises under his or her control.” The penalties include a fine of up to $5,000 and one year in jail.

Social Host Liability Law:

If your guests are clearly intoxicated and injure a third party either on or off your premises you are considered liable for the injuries they have caused. For further clarification please read about the social host liability law in Washington State here.

Hazardous Conditions at Your Party:

Make sure you do not have unsafe steps, a broken deck, electrical problems or any other maintenance problem on your property before you host. If a guest trips on exposed wires for example, you may face a civil lawsuit if you have not taken reasonable precautions to avoid injuring others. If there is an area that poses threat to your guests you must clearly label the area “danger zone” to avoid claims against you.

Homeowners’ Insurance:

Make sure you have proper insurance that is current and has adequate policy limits. If a guest is injured while you are hosting a graduation party you want to make sure you are covered.

Strict Law Enforcement:

Law enforcement agencies throughout Washington say that many DUI arrests follow some form of house party. With graduation parties on the rise, law enforcement agencies plan to remain strict on alcoholic related law offenses. Stay safe graduates and families and good luck in your future endeavors.