Holiday Celebrations and Social Host Liability: What You Need to Know

A guest blog from our friends and State Victim Services Presenting Sponsor, Yarborough Applegate Law Firm 

The holiday season is a time abundant with cocktail parties, gift swaps, and festive gatherings. But amid all the merriment, it’s critical for everyone to remember the dangers of driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs—and the importance of keeping impaired drivers off our roads.  

 Of course, drunk and drugged driving is a year-round danger. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 37 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes every single day—or one person every 39 minutes. In 2021, the country saw a 14 percent increase in alcohol-impaired driving traffic deaths (13,384 people) over 2020. Every single one of these deaths was preventable.  

 That’s why Yarborough Applegate seeks to promote safer alcohol sale policies at bars and retailers through our dram shop casework, and is a proud and longstanding partner of MADD South Carolina. As the holiday party season hits its peak with Christmas and New Year’s celebrations ahead, now is a great time to refresh on what everyone should know about safe alcohol service in South Carolina. 


  • Never serve alcohol to underage guests: In South Carolina, if a host knowingly serves alcohol to someone 21 years or younger and that minor gets behind the wheel of a car, the host may be held liable or responsible for damages and injuries to both the guest and anyone else harmed due to the minor’s intoxication.
  • Always offer non-alcoholic drink alternatives and plenty of food: No one should drink on an empty stomach, and non-alcoholic cocktails (and easy access to water) are important additions to any party you might be hosting.
  • Ensure all guests have a safe plan for getting home: Encourage them to plan ahead and designate a sober driver, use public transportation, or call a ride-share service or taxi.
  • If you see an impaired driver on the road, call 911: We all play a role in keeping roadways safe. If you think someone might be driving under the influence, don’t hesitate to contact law enforcement.
  • Seek help if you or someone you love finds it difficult to drink responsibly: Get help today through Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357). The helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service available in English and Spanish. 


 If you or someone you love was injured by a drunk driver—whether they were underage and served alcohol by a host, someone who was sold alcohol by a host, or a patron overserved at a bar or restaurant—you should speak with an experienced South Carolina lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us today to discuss your situation for free. Our team is here to help.