Tall order for responsible publicans

Jill Derbyshire and husband Peter have been at the Royal Hotel, Naseby, for more than two years and are keenly aware of their host responsibilities under the law.

Mrs Derbyshire said hoteliers were the first in the firing line if something went wrong.

''We could lose our licence,'' Mrs Derbyshire said.

One of the tools they use is an incident book, in which they and their staff protect themselves by recording any interactions they had with patrons about suggesting they use the courtesy coach or that they be driven home, or if they had been argumentative in the bar.

''If something happens and they have been in the bar beforehand, it is there,'' she said.

They have not had to refer back to it so far, as there had not been any trouble at the bar.

''I would hope it would show it was out of our control if they [the patron] chose to ignore any offer that was made.''

She said if someone had an accident after drinking beer sold by a supermarket, then that outlet was ''not in the firing line.''

However, it was a different story for hotels.

''Even if they [patron] had chosen to walk home, after being at the bar, and fell in a ditch and broke a leg, we are responsible for that.''

She said that it must be incredibly hard for bars in places such as Queenstown to stick to the law.

''We had a guy pulled up here last week about 9am wanting to buy a lighter but we were not open.''

The driver said he was still really drunk.

She was not sure if advertising campaigns were effective, especially with younger people.

''I would think people in their late teens and early 20s are most likely to drink and drive.''

It was a similar situation to smacking children, she said.

''It is illegal for people to smack children, but people still bash kids.

''For people who are responsible it [anti-drink-driving campaigns and the law] does have an effect, but for people who [are] not responsible, they are going to do it, anyway,'' Mrs Derbyshire said.

- by Yvonne O'Hara