Pubs have known this for a long time – people are drinking, and often drinking a lot, before they get to them.
It’s called pre-loading.
Bars can lose their licences and staff face stiff fines if they serve drunks.
It must be hard enough to keep track of what customers drink when you’re serving them, bar staff can have no idea what people might have drunk at home if they aren’t showing signs of being drunk.
If they do suspect they’re drunk they can refuse to serve them and ask them to leave.
Hospitals can’t do that even though dealing with drunks costs them a lot of time and resources and pre-loading is a big part of the problem:
“We knew there was a problem with people turning up to our department with alcohol-related problems; this has confirmed that and it’s even shown that we’re underestimating it,” says professor of emergency medicine at Otago University Dr Mike Ardagh.
The study found alcohol contributed to almost one in three attendances at the hospital’s emergency department between 11pm on Saturday nights and 8am Sunday.
The median number of drinks consumed across alcohol-affected patients was 14 standard units -that’s about two bottles of wine or more than a dozen cans of beer.
Increasing prices for at off-licence outlets is one suggestion but that imposes costs on the majority of people who drink moderately.
One problem with existing liquor laws is that people who serve drunks can be charged but the drunks don’t usually face the same risk.
Making drunks who cause problems and costs face the responsibility and be liable for their actions would be a better place to start than increasing taxes.