Bar owners call for public drunkenness laws
Dominion Post 26 May 2012
If you’re drunk in public you should be prosecuted or fined, bar owners say. They serve up millions of alcoholic drinks each year, but publicans want drinkers to face criminal liability if caught intoxicated in a public place. They say it’s unfair that liquor licence holders are prosecuted for letting in drunks – but individuals face no legal penalty. Licensees who admit or serve drunk patrons can have their licences suspended or cancelled by the Liquor Licensing Authority. They also face fines of up to $10,000 in the district court. But Hospitality New Zealand says most alcohol-related problems in the central city involve young drinkers “pre-loading” at home on cheap alcohol before heading into town. “The industry just increasingly feels blamed for this culture,” Hospitality NZ regional manager Sara Tucker said.
….The Law Commission considered whether to introduce a new criminal offence of public drunkenness during its review of liquor laws in 2010. Ad Feedback However, the proposal was dumped after police advised it was unworkable, a spokeswoman said. “Operationally they simply couldn’t manage arresting everyone who was drunk in a public place.” A senior Wellington police officer told The Dominion Post gauging whether someone was intoxicated was difficult and subjective, and complicated by the use of recreational drugs. A police submission to the Law Commission review warned that a return to the offence of public drunkenness would cause a spike in complaints, many during peak offending times. It would also clog the criminal justice system, consuming considerable court and police resources.