Legal responsibility for holiday alcohol consumption

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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) "The holidays are here, people are having fun but there's really no point in drinking and driving," said Chris Hangel owner of Anchor Bistro & Bar in Twin Falls.

Whether out on the town getting drinks or hosting a party where alcohol is being served there's always a risk.

"Then one of those intoxicated people that you serve to go out and gets in an accident and kills somebody, I think you can expect a lawsuit," said Grant Loebs Twin Falls Prosecuting Attorney.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 28 people die every day due to alcohol-impaired drivers. That’s a death about every 51 minutes.

"You mine as well find a ride, get an Uber app, get the Lyft app, get whatever you have to get to get home safe," Hangel said.

Hangel and his staff are "tip" certified, which allows them to assess customers and know when to cap the bottle. Restaurants can’t take a customer’s keys or restrain them but they try to make sure they’re knowledgeable of their transportation options before getting to a point of not being able to drive themselves.

But in Idaho if you’re hosting a house party you’re accepting the liability of the people you invite while they’re at your residence and when they leave. Part of that is criminally punishable by law if someone is knowingly continuing to serve an intoxicated person.

"There's a statute in Idaho Code that makes that a misdemeanor. If you're serving to people who are obviously intoxicated and you keep serving them, then you can be prosecuted for a misdemeanor. It would be a fine and possible jail time, possibly up to six months in jail,” Loebs said.

No one is there to police house parties besides the homeowners. Civically if a person was to leave a party, drive intoxicated, get into an accident and harm themselves or someone else the person who gave them where they were traveling from can be named in a lawsuit.

"What we can do is pass on the knowledge to be smart and not ruin your life over one night of drinking. So have fun, take a cab ride home, do what you have to do. But don't put yourself in jeopardy or somebody else's life,” Hangel said.

"The last thing anybody wants is a party that goes bad because of a tragic accident," Loebs said.

There is always an alternative to getting behind the wheel impaired. Whether it be Uber, Lyft, a cab or your own two feet.

"Drinking is fun. Don't make it not fun by getting a DUI," Hangel said.

The best way to spread holiday cheer is with friends and family while being smart and responsible.

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