Kentucky Social Host Guide – Private Party Best Practices

Kentucky Social Host Guide: Managing Alcohol Risks for Your Next Private Party


2020 has been a rather quiet year in terms of social activities. Many have foregone annual events that bring together family and friends. While this way of life may feel permanent now, the day will soon come when it is no longer frowned upon to gather and celebrate life’s momentous occasions. Our attention will begin to shift from the next Zoom conference to the next get-together with friends. This shift will require risk-management in anticipation of that get-together, particularly if you are hosting and serving alcohol. You will benefit from understanding your responsibilities and potential liabilities as a social-host.*

Personal Service

Should you serve alcohol directly to your guests it will be important to keep an eye on your guests’ behavior. If someone appears to be intoxicated, do not serve them another drink¬—especially if that person is driving. Under Kentucky law, an individual injured by a drunk driver does not have an action against the private social host who served the alcohol, but that does not mean you shouldn’t hold your guests accountable. A guest who takes the wheel under the influence may still be held liable criminally, and civilly should they injure another person.

Serving to minors is still off-limits. It is a violation of the law to serve alcohol to persons under the age of 21, even at your own home.

Catered Service

Hiring a catering service for your party may help reduce your liability as the host, but that does not mean you should take a laze-faire approach to your guests’ alcohol consumption. When a licensed caterer provides alcohol and food to your guests, your home becomes what is known under Kentucky law as the caterer’s “licensed premises.” This will shift some of the liability to the catering service and will ensure that the hired bartender will keep a close, experienced eye on guests to prevent overconsumption.

If your licensed caterer provides alcohol, your guests may not bring their own alcohol to the event—No, not even your favorite wine cooler. There are also laws that require a specific quantity of food in proportion to alcohol, which vary based on your location. In dry counties, only 50% of your purchase may be applied to alcohol, in moist counties, 30%, and in wet counties, 65%.

Best Practices

Here are some host tips to help you plan for your next house gathering:

  • Offer food and other non-alcoholic beverages, especially water.
  • Limit your own alcohol consumption and monitor your guests’ intake.
  • Stop serving guests who have had too much to drink.
  • Set up an iPad or tablet device that allows guests to request an Uber or Lyft.
  • Stop serving alcohol an hour prior to the end of the party.
  • Do not serve alcohol to anyone under the age of 21. You might check IDs of guests who look questionable if you’re not sure.

If you have questions regarding Kentucky Social Host Guidelines, please feel free to contact  the attorneys at Denton Law Firm located in Paducah, Kentucky, at (270) 442-8253.

*A social host is defined as a person who furnishes another with alcohol in a social setting.

Researched and Prepared by Fletcher Lyon