The Law And Alcohol
You’re a bloke out drinking with mates. It’s your shout, but the publican refuses to serve you. He says you’ve had too much to drink and orders you to leave the premises. You are outraged. You don’t feel drunk and haven’t caused any problems. You feel your rights have been violated. What does the law say?
You’ve had a few drinks and are pulled over for a breath test. What if you refuse to cooperate?
You’re a pregnant woman having lunch with girlfriends. You ask for a glass of wine and the waitress refuses to serve you alcohol “in your condition”. You are outraged and insulted. You insist one glass won’t hurt, besides it’s none of their business. Is the law on your side?
The Liquor Act 2007 forbids pubs selling alcohol to an intoxicated person and even allowing intoxication on the premises. Do so and the pub and staff can be fined $1,100. Drunks have to leave the premises immediately. Refuse and the pub must call police. If you refuse to leave you can be fined $550 on the spot or face a court fine of up to $5,500. Police can take a drunk home or leave them with a responsible person. If they can’t find one, they can keep them in a police holding cell.
The law states a person is intoxicated (a) if their speech, balance, co-ordination or behavior is noticeably affected and (b) if it is reasonable to believe these symptoms are the result of the consumption of liquor.
But the pub has to be sure it is not refusing service on the grounds of discrimination such as race, sex or disability. A person has the right to go to the Anti-Discrimination Board if they feel they have been subjected to discrimination. The pub must have available free water and sell food that helps slow down intoxication.
And if you think it’s smart to refuse a breath test, think again. The penalty for refusing is the same as being found guilty of high range PCA – up to $3,300 fine, 18 months jail and lose your licence for three years. But police can’t test you if you are inside your home and they must test you within two hours of driving.
The pregnant woman has the law on her side. While it is illegal to serve alcohol to anyone under 18, it is quite legal for kids to drink with their parents’ permission or at home. There is no law against serving alcohol to a pregnant woman. It may not be best for the baby, but the law doesn’t protect the foetus.