California Residents Beware: New Social Host Liability Law for Furnishing Alcohol to Minors

Previously, Section 1714(c) of the California Civil Code specified that social hosts who provide alcohol may not be held civilly liable for any damage, injury, or death resulting from that alcohol consumption. However, beginning in 2011, Section 1714 is amended to now impose civil liability against a parent, guardian, or other adult who knowingly furnishes alcoholic beverages at his or her residence to a person under 21 years of age, where the furnishing of the alcoholic beverage is found to be the proximate cause of the resulting injuries or death.

A violation of this new law will most assuredly void your homeowner’s insurance and umbrella coverage, leaving you, the homeowner, bare and without any general liability coverage. While this new law will apply in California, many other states have similar such laws or will soon be enacting such laws.

Remember, this law applies to alcohol consumption by anyone under 21 years of age, which includes college students. As a parent of two college graduates myself, my wife and I can recall our concern about alcohol consumption being present when our children entertained their “underage” friends at our home during school breaks and the summer session.

Parents: This is a serious situation and can unwittingly expose you and your wealth to extreme risk of loss in a civil lawsuit. In our practice area, we routinely witness tragic situations both for the victim and his or her family, and the homeowner at whose residence the consumption took place.

Please be extra vigilant when your teenager is home and by all means, make sure your estate planning has all available “firewalls” for maximum asset and lifestyle protection.

For more information about any of the information discussed in this Client Alert, or any other income or estate tax planning or asset protection planning assistance, please contact Jeffrey M. Verdon Law Group, LLP at or (800) 521-0464.

Posted in Client Alert.