Police give new alcohol laws green light

24/12/2013

Police have given an interim green light to new liquor laws:

Inspector Ben Offner said Police were called out to less alcohol related harm events over the weekend than in previous December weekends.

“It is very early days,” Mr Offner said. “But the signs are positive that the legislation will reduce alcohol related harm in our community.”

“Police’s focus is very much on prevention rather than enforcement. The new legislation gives our officers more tools to prevent violence and alcohol related harm from occurring. ”

“We believe shorter opening hours, on-the-spot fines and stricter enforcement of under-age identification will in time all reduce alcohol related harm.”

The new legislation came into effect from one minute past midnight on Thursday 19 December.

The most visible changes include:

· off-licenses must close by 11pm

· on-licenses must close at 4am

· Police officers will be able to issue alcohol infringement offence notices (AIONs) for a range of new offences, including breach of local alcohol bans, lending ID to an under-18 year-old, and presenting a fake ID ($250 per offence).

Bars that serve intoxicated people, or allow them to remain on the premises while intoxicated, risk a fine of up to $10,000. Police throughout New Zealand will use an “alcohol assessment tool” to make consistent assessments of whether a person is merely under the influence of alcohol or “intoxicated” as defined in the Act.

Mr Offner said it is too early to evaluate the cumulative effects of all these changes but it is clear that young New Zealanders will need to adjust their schedules to accommodate the new laws.

“We expect there to be a period of adjustment and our focus will be on education and prevention during the busy summer period ahead.”

Mr Offner said the Auckland and Wellington City Council’s had been instrumental in creating a smooth transition over the weekend by providing more public transport and helping to educate bar owners and customers of their new responsibilities.

One change not mentioned in this report is the ability for police to give spot fines to drunks.

That puts the responsibility where it should be – with the person who’s drinking too much and causing problems because of it.


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