New alcohol laws have had a promising start with a quiet
night reported on the last Friday before Christmas -
traditionally one of the busiest nights of the year for
This week the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act was introduced,
designed to curb early morning drunkenness and disorder.
Included in the new regulations was closing time for bars to
be at 4am and police were given increased powers to issue
infringement notices for a range of new offences, including
breaching alcohol bans, lending an under-18 identification,
and presenting a fake ID.
Each infringement is punishable with a $250 fine.
Inspector Ben Offner said there were fewer calls for
assistance to police overnight and patrons seemed happy to
leave town at the earlier closing time.
He believed there had been sufficient information about the
new law for the public about the changes.
"Auckland and Wellington shift commanders have both said the
transition to the new hours had been quite smooth. In
Wellington people came out of the bars at 4 o'clock, jumped
into a taxi and went home - no issues.
"That's indicative of people understanding the hours are
there and they are operating to those hours."
He was "cautiously optimistic" that police were on the right
"The bars in Auckland were packed last night, they were
really busy and yet our calls for service, which is people
calling up asking for help are slightly down on last week."
"It's too early to say definitively, all I can say at first
glance things are looking up."
Changes to the new liquor laws include:
* off-licences must close by 11pm;
* on-licences must close at 4am;
* police officers will be able to issue alcohol infringement
notices 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
* police throughout NZ will use an "alcohol assessment tool"
to assess whether a person is merely under the influence of
alcohol or "intoxicated" as defined in the act.
- Rebecca Quilliam of APNZ