Southern hospitality is a long standing tradition in Alabama and our residents take pride in offering guests food and drink — especially during college football season. However, if you are serving anything more intoxicating than a glass of sweet tea to your guests, there are certain laws in Alabama that you need to understand and follow closely. Most problems in this area are associated with a homeowner serving alcohol to minors. In Alabama, the age of majority is 19 years of age, but a person must be 21 years old to legally purchase or consume alcoholic beverages. Persons under 21 years of age cannot legally possess or consume alcohol under any circumstances, even in a private home or with parental permission. Alabama Code § 28-1-5.
Under the Alabama Civil Damages Act, social hosts can be liable if they provide alcohol to a a person under 21 years old and that person is injured or injures another person while intoxicated. The parents or children of an intoxicated person under 21 years old that is injured can make a claim against the homeowners that provided the alcohol. Other parties that are injured may pursue claims against the homeowners as well as the intoxicated person. For example, if the host of a party provides alcohol to a person under 21 years old who then becomes intoxicated and causes a car crash as a result, the host could be sued by both the parents or children of the intoxicated person and by anyone else the intoxicated person injured in the crash.
Homeowners may also be guilty of a crime if they allow persons under 21 years old to drink alcohol or use controlled substances on their property. It is a misdemeanor for an adult homeowner to allow an “Open House Party” at their residence. The Alabama Open House Party Law, makes it unlawful for an adult who is aware of the party and in attendance to allow a party to continue if: