Social Hosting in South Carolina

If I provide alcohol to an underage person, I can…

  • Be arrested and serve jail time
  • Lose my driver's license
  • Lose my scholarships
  • Be fined $200-$300
  • Be sanctioned to community service
  • Be held liable for my friends actions

What does being held liable mean?

South Carolina Supreme Court made it clear that social hosts may be legally liable for damages in the event that an inebriated underage guest injures himself or others as a result of the consumption of alcohol served by the social host. The two cases in which the Supreme Court considered this issue involved facts that are not uncommon.

Marcum v. Bowden

In this case, a 19-year old guest attended a party where alcoholic beverages were available to all guests. He consumed alcohol at the party before leaving with other partygoers. After going home with another guest with the intention that he "sober up," he attempted to drive home and was killed in a one-car accident. The party hosts were sued for wrongful death and were found liable for damages. The court stated an adult social host who knowingly and intentionally serves, or causes to be served, an alcoholic beverage to a person he knows or reasonably should know is between the ages of 18 and 20 is liable to the person served and to any other person for damages proximately resulting from the host's service of alcohol (Marcum V. Bowden, No. 26259. S.C. Supreme Ct., Feb. 5, 2007)

Barnes v. Cohen Dry Wall Inc.

In the second case, a 19-year old guest attended a business-related function where he consumed alcohol. He left that party and traveled to several other locations before being involved in a two-car accident in which he and a passenger in the other car were killed. The party hosts were sued for negligence and were found liable for damages.

What does this mean for me?

Whether you are under or over the age of 21, it is illegal to provide alcohol to people under 21. Not only can you be charged criminally for providing alcohol to underage persons, but you can be sued for hosting a party where underage persons can drink alcohol or providing alcohol to an underage person if that person is injured or they injure others as a result of drinking.

This project was supported by Grant # 2008-AH-FX_0068 awarded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.