Parents - Liability

Your party, your problem…

As a parent, if you allow an alcohol-related event to be held on your property, if you host an alcohol-related event on or off your property, or if you provide the alcohol to others, you may have more legal responsibilities than you thought.

You are more likely to be held legally responsible when underage youth are involved.

If you allow an underage "bring your own beverage (BYOB)" event to be held on your property, you may be held liable for injuries suffered or caused by a guest who is intoxicated. This is true whether the injuries occurred at the event or after the guest leaves. The courts are likely to be even more critical of your actions if you bought or provided the alcohol for the underage event.

A person can be held liable from any of the following situations:

  • You knowingly permit someone underage to host a drinking party on your property.
  • You host an alcohol-related function such as an after prom or gradation party and fail to take reasonable steps to ensure the safety of your guest while they are on your property.
  • You host a party in your home and provide alcohol to a guest who is obviously intoxicated

Check out these important links from MADD Canada to learn about how alcohol at parties can legally affect you:

Alcohol, Teens, and Catastrophe
Sobering Thoughts on Safe Partying: A Guide to Avoiding Legal Liability
Being Sued Can Ruin a Good Party: A Social Host's Guide

What the Law in Ontario Says...

The sale and consumption of alcohol in Ontario is mandated by a law called the Liquor License Act.

   It is illegal to:
  •  give alcohol to someone under the age of 19, unless you are the parent/lawful custodian and are in a residence or private place as defined under the Liquor Licence Act.
  •  buy alcohol for an underage youth.
  •  present fake identification.
  •  serve or supply alcohol to anyone who is or appears to be intoxicated.

Under the Liquor Licence Act, if you are found guilty of selling or supplying alcohol to an underage youth, you are subject to a fine of up to $2,000 and a jail sentence of up to one year.

Tips to Reduce Your Party Liability


  • Screen people at your door. Know your guests, have an invitation list and only allow entry to those on the list..have a plan for handling unwelcome guests.
  • Keep it small, smaller parties are easier to manage.
  • Set clear rules and limits.
  • Make sure all alcohol and medication in your home is not accessible.
  • Have only one entrance and exit….no revolving door, to prevent off-site drinking or other activities.
  • No pubic advertising… a party attracts party crashers.
  • Keep emergency numbers close at hand.
  • Take action with a guest who is drinking or causing trouble, don’t allow them to drive, if necessary call parent/police.
  • Keep the party active, don’t make alcohol the focus of the party.
  • Host an alcohol and drug free party.


Getting Home - Helpful Ideas...

  •  Know where your youth is going; get the name, address and a phone number.
  •  Make driving your youth to and from a party the norm.
  •  Let your youth know it is OK to call home for a ride under any circumstance!!!
  •  Encourage your youth to travel with a trusted friend…share a ride.
  •  Help your youth to be prepared… provide taxi numbers, money, cell phone, etc. to get them home safely.