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Keep the Holiday Season Happy and Merry

2 minute read

At this time of year, a number of businesses entertain their customers, clients and employees at a seasonal party. On some occasions, the party is held onsite. In other instances, the party may be at a licensed premise or possibly in the home of one of the principals of the business. Regardless of where your seasonal party may be held, you should be aware of your responsibilities under the liquor laws and the Criminal Code. Most importantly, you must take appropriate steps to protect yourself from the possibility of civil, legal liability.

If you intend to entertain during the holiday season, you are advised to take appropriate steps to inform yourself as to the alcohol consumption of your guests. The individual serving alcohol drinks needs to be Smart Serve certified by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario. Those individuals who are trained and certified in Smart Serve know that it is their responsibility to monitor the consumption of those that they serve, and that they are required to ensure that any guest is not over served. To invite people to a party in a location that you control on a BYOB (bring your own booze) basis is a recipe for disaster. It is impossible for you to control or to know how much your guest is consuming. Notwithstanding your ignorance on these two important issues, you could be held both criminally and civilly responsible if your guest leaves the premises and causes harm to an innocent third party. You may wish to consider giving your guests drink tickets upon arrival that will enable them to obtain drinks to a maximum limit. This is but one way in which you can control the alcohol consumption of your guests.

I would also strongly recommend that when extending invitations you indicate that it is irresponsible to drink and drive, and that alternate arrangements will be made for those who feel that they have consumed alcohol beyond the legal limit. Remember there are two specific drinking and driving offences. While one requires evidence of erratic or impaired driving, the second offence simply involves a blood alcohol reading over the legal limit. There are many instances when an individual can appear to be perfectly normal but when asked, would blow over the legal blood alcohol limit. Arrangements for a taxicab home or the services of Keyz Thankz are wise safeguards.

During the holiday season there is increased and intensified police surveillance for drinking drivers. In today's world one should assume that zero tolerance applies. Please make sure that you and your family have a happy and merry holiday by taking sensible steps to monitor and control the alcohol consumption of your guests whether they be customers, clients, employees, friends or family.

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Michael M. Lerner

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