Social Host Liability in South Carolina

Many states also hold social hosts liable if they provide alcohol to a guest who then injures someone else. In South Carolina, a social host liability claim might exist if the guest was a minor under age 21. However, the courts have stated that such a claim does not exist if the intoxicated person was an adult.

In Garren v. Cummings & McCrady, Inc., the driver, Ronald Slider, consumed alcohol at a party hosted by Cummings & McCrady. While driving home, Slider crossed the center line in his vehicle and collided head-on with Garren's car, injuring him. Garren sought damages from Cummings & McCrady for serving the alcohol that intoxicated Slider before the accident. The South Carolina Supreme Court, however, ruled that Cummings & McCrady could not be held liable. Even if it was "reasonably foreseeable" that serving alcohol to Slider might result in a drunk-driving crash, Slider, not Cummings & McCrady, was the one responsible for the accident.

South Carolina law does impose criminal penalties on social hosts who help minors under age 21 to drink, but only under specific circumstances. For instance, South Carolina Statutes section 45-2-40 makes it a misdemeanor to violate the state's underage drinking law in a rented hotel room or similar lodging.

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