Parties are lots of fun. Meeting up and hanging out with friends can be a great way to spend a weekend. But things do not always go to the way we expect them to. Uninvited guests, people getting drunk, and property damage may are some of the things that can go wrong at parties and the consequences aren’t fun. If you are hosting a party there are a number of things you might want to think about beforehand, including:
The following information applies to South Australia. If you are from a different state, make sure you select the correct state under the link 'change state' on the banner above. If you want more information or legal advice about throwing parties and your rights and responsibilities, please send us a Lawmail.
Once you decide to have a party, a good idea is to make a guest list and stick to it. Having people you don’t know turn up to a party can cause a good time to get out of control. There are a few ways you can make sure you and your friends don’t have to worry about people you didn’t invite ruining your night:
- have a single entry point;
- no pass-outs;
- ask an adult to act as a security guard;
- avoid inviting people online. However if you want to invite people on Facebook or email make sure the list is controlled by you and private.
It is a good idea to register your party beforehand with the local police station. If the police are aware of your party they can:
- help you remove gatecrashers;
- drive by to make sure everything is ok; and
- tell you about any complaints about noise over the phone.
You can notify the police by:
- calling them on 13 14 44;
- going to your local police station or
- completing a Party Safe Notification form and dropping it into your local police station ONE week before your party.
Remember to tell the police if the party gets postponed, relocated or cancelled.
If you’re having your party at licensed premises, such as a pub or a club, it is illegal for staff to sell or serve alcohol to someone under the age of 18. In fact it is illegal for someone under the age of 18 to be on the premises after midnight.
At a party in a private house, it is not against the law for someone under 18 to drink alcohol, regardless of whether or not their guardian is present. If you are intending on serving alcohol to guests under 18, it is good idea to let their parents/guardians know and have a responsible adult serving the alcohol as your parents/guardians can be sued for a breach of duty if something goes wrong.
If people are drinking, remind your guests it is illegal and dangerous to drink and drive. If your guests are on their “P” plates they must not have a blood alcohol reading when they drive. If anyone has their full licence, the limit is 0.05g. Generally this means you can have two standard drinks in your first hour and one every hour after that but will depend on your weight, size and alcohol tolerance. If you have guests who are planning to drink there are a number of options:
- organise a taxi;
- offer them a couch to sleep on;
- organise a designated driver (someone who takes a night off from drinking to drive others home).
In South Australia drink spiking is against the law. This includes when people add alcohol or another substance to someone else’s drink without their knowledge. If you spike another person’s food or drink, by putting in a substance that will affect their behaviour without their knowledge, you are guilty of a crime. For example, if you add more alcohol to someone else’s drink than they would be expecting to be in there you could face up to three years imprisonment. . Check out the Kids Helpline Safe Partying page for some great advice on managing alcohol.
It is illegal to have drugs at your house or on your body (e.g. in your pocket). If you are found to have drugs in your possession, you could be fined up to $10, 000. However, if there are drugs at your house and in someone else’s control you will not be guilty of possession. Control means you own them or have the right to use them. For more information on the penalties you could face for possessing or using drugs please check out our Drugs page.
It is a crime for anyone to threaten to hurt, touch in a sexual way without consent or force another person to take part in any sexual activity against their will. It is important to remember that regardless of whether or not people are drinking at your party, you want to make sure all your guests stay safe. At parties, lots of people may be socialising and maybe finding someone special. One way to keep each other safe is to stay together or make plans to check in with each other throughout the night. For more information regarding sexual assault please read our Sexual Assault page.
If someone gets hurt or drinks too much and it is an emergency, you should call an ambulance on 000.
At the ambulance’s arrival, you should tell them:
- how much the person has drunk; and
- what substances have they taken.
The ambulance officers do not have to call the police unless:
- the ambulance officers are at risk of danger;
- someone dies; or
- you request that the police attend.
In the case of a drug overdose, and you don’t know whether the amount taken was damaging, you can ring Poisons Information on 131 126, anytime and anywhere in Australia for advice. Be aware that it takes a while for the symptoms of an overdose to appear.
The most common complaint from neighbours is the level of noise at parties. In South Australia, everyone has a general duty not to undertake an activity which may pollute (including through noise) the environment and to take all reasonable and practical measures to prevent or minimise any environmental harm or nuisance to your neighbours. This includes any noise which is likely to unreasonably interfere with the enjoyment of the area by your neighbours.
Your neighbours may complain at any time if they consider the noise a nuisance. If your party is judged to be creating such noise, then the police can order an environmental protection order requiring you to stop the noise. If you fail to stop the noise and there is another complaint within a 72 hour period you may receive a fine.
Having a party at your house is a lot of responsibility. You take on a duty for the safety of all your guests so make sure items that can injure your guests are set aside. If your guest is injured, they may be able to sue either you or your parents/guardian for negligence. For more information, see our topic Being Sued
Have an emergency contact list drawn up and put it in a place where it could be seen.
The list should include:
- Emergency: Police, Ambulance and Fire Service 000;
- local police- 131 444;
- local Taxi;
- Poisons Information Centre 131 126;
- local hospital; and
- a responsible person’s number.
For more tips on party planning visit:
- Reach Out! at Safe Partying
- South Australia Police: Party Safe
- Kids Helpline: Safe Partying
Also check out our relevant topics on Lawstuff:
You may copy and use this fact sheet.
This page was last updated on 24 February 2015.
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