Thursday, August 19, 2010

California Passes Social Host Law

Much to the chagrin of 21 Debunked and all those who love liberty and oppose the 21 drinking age, today California joined the majority of states and passed a social host liability law.  This means that if you furnish alcohol to someone under 21 and they happen to get killed or injured, you can be sued, and there appear to be no limits on how much you can be sued for. 

We have already discussed in previous posts why we oppose such laws.  First of all, it is just another attempt to prop up the greatest alcohol policy failure since Prohibition, the 21 drinking age.  Secondly, 18-20 year olds are legal adults in all other ways, and should be responsible for their own actions, drunk or not.  Third, such laws have not been proven to save lives, and would probably just force alcohol even further underground, leaving party hosting to only the bold and reckless. Finally, in a country without meaningful tort reform, it will enrich greedy trial lawyers while causing many families to possibly even lose their homes in lawsuits, as social host awards are typically in the millions of dollars.  We can just see them salivating like Pavlov's dog at the prospect.

We at 21 Debunked feel that suing the host (who is at most only peripherally involved, by definition) because the drunk driver does not have deep enough pockets is really quite low to say the least.  Parasitic even, especially when the dollar amounts are ludicrously high as they usually are.  The worst of all are those stupid drunk drivers who sue the host for their own injuries, a group for whom we have no sympathy.  Thus, we do not support social host laws of any kind.  But we do think that drunk drivers of any age who kill or seriously injure others should be sued for everything they have and, if that is still not enough to cover the damages, be forced to work off their debt in prison the rest of their lives.

Interestingly, social host laws (as well as dram shop laws, which are the same thing only applied to bars/restaurants instead) appear to exist in only two countries, the USA and Canada.  We Americans are well-known for our ethic of hyper-individualism, as opposed to a more communitarian or "brother's keeper" ethic found in most other countries, including many in Europe.  Thus, America is the last place one would expect to find such laws, but for some reason it is almost the only place they are found.  Perhaps the fact that our society is so litigious compared to the rest of the world, and increasingly so, is at least part of the reason.  Or maybe it is for the same asinine reasons that the drinking age is arbitrarily set at 21, a full three years higher than the age of majority.  Whatever the reason, such laws are un-American, obsolete, and incompatible with the values upon which our nation was founded, and should thus be stricken from the books at once.

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