December 31 ushers in the start of the New Year and is a night notorious for celebration, contemplation and reflection. However, many of us may place a greater importance on the aspect of celebration and the night may not always go the way we expected it to. Uninvited guests, gross intoxication, poor behaviour and property damage are some examples of how many people choose to celebrate the beginning of the New Year and these choices sometimes have grave consequences. If you are hosting a New Year’s Eve Party, or hitting the town with friends, it is important you keep the following points in mind in order to ensure your safety and others’.
Whether you are throwing a party at a licensed premise or having a few drinks with guests at home, it is important to know the laws around serving alcohol.
In licensed premises such as pubs or clubs, not only is it illegal for staff to serve or sell alcohol to individuals under the age of 18, but it is also illegal for someone under the age of 18 to be on the premises after midnight.
If, however, you are hosting a party in a private house, there is no law that prevents you from drinking on those private premises if you are under the age of 18. If you intend on hosting a party with friends or family under the age of 18, it is recommended that you inform their parents/guardians of the fact that alcohol will be served on the premises, and to obtain clear consent from any parent prior to the night – you do not want to usher in the New Year with a law suit for breach of duty of care in the event that something went wrong.
It is also important to remind yourself and your guests that it is not only illegal, but also dangerous, to drink whilst under the influence of alcohol and illicit substances. Individuals who are on their Provisional “P” Plates must have a 0.00 g/100mL blood alcohol reading when they drive, and persons on their full licence must have a blood alcohol reading of less than 0.05 g/100mL in order to legally drive.
If you or your guests are planning on drinking this New Year’s Eve, we recommend:
- Organising a Taxi (or Uber if you’re a trendy millennial);
- Hosting a slumber party; or
- Nominating a friend (preferably the one who always cops flak from the lads) to be the designated driver for the night.
Not only will these options ensure your safety, but they will ensure that you avoid the costly fines and disqualification periods associated with drink driving offences.
If you are planning on heading out this New Year’s Eve, it is important you are aware of South Australia’s Dry Zone laws and regulations. A ‘Dry Area’ or ‘Dry Zone’ is an area where it is prohibited to consume, or have in your possession, alcohol under the Liquor Licensing Act 1997.
If you breach this rule, you are guilty of an offence which can result in a maximum penalty of $1,250.
Dry Zones are created to minimise any negative or potential risks of anti-social behaviour that can cause corruption to public areas.
Take care and take notice of any signage which indicates that the area is a ‘dry zone’, or risk a hefty penalty (which could have been better spent on…more alcohol?). Common dry zones include Glenelg and surrounding beaches and the Adelaide CBD (excluding in licenced venues).
It is not uncommon that New Year’s Eve combined with alcohol consumption can lead to offences of disorderly behaviour. This type of behaviour includes being riotous, threatening, abusive or insulting towards others in a public place.
This can result in a maximum penalty of a $1,250 fine, or even 3 months imprisonment.
Disorderly behaviour can encompass the following:
An offence of violent disorder can be made out when three or more people intentionally use, or threaten, unlawful violence which would cause a person to reasonably fear for their personal safety. This type of violence extends to violent conduct against property as well as a person.
The maximum penalty for violent disorder is a $10,000 fine, or 2 years imprisonment.
A person commits the offence of Affray when they use, or threaten, violence towards another which causes that person to reasonably fear for their personal safety. This can involve more than one person. An example of an Affray offence is a fight between two or more people in a public place which involves a level of violence that would put a bystander in substantial fear for their personal safety.
The maximum penalty for a basic offence of Affray is 3 years imprisonment, with an aggravated offence having a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.
A Riot is committed when 12 or more people are involved in the use, or threatening, of unlawful violence for a common purpose in a public place which would cause a person who is present at the scene to reasonably fear for their safety.
The maximum penalty for such an offence is 7 years imprisonment, with an aggravated offence having a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment.
How to avoid an offence of disorderly conduct?
It is important to remind yourself that dire punishments can result from violent behaviour both in public and private. Not only could such an offence result in imprisonment, but the consequences on the other party could be deadly.
If you are planning on drinking, make sure you are aware of your limits, and if you are enjoying yourself in a public place, we encourage you to act responsibly and avoid getting carried away.
A legal nuisance involves a substantial, unreasonable and repeated, or ongoing, interference with the use or enjoyment of a neighbours land. Although complaints, such as noise complaints, are subjectively assessed, it is important that you keep your neighbours in mind if you are having a house party.
We recommend providing your neighbours with ample notice of your intention to host a party to avoid any attendance by Police or an awkward neighbourly dispute highlighted on Today Tonight.
Each year Police are on high alert to ensure that New Year’s Eve celebrations are fun and safe for all South Australians. We strongly urge you to consider your actions and keep your alcohol consumption to a maintainable level.
If you find yourself in the back of a “paddy wagon” on New Year’s Eve, know someone who has been involved in one or more of the above offences, or are simply looking for more information, help or advice, please contact us below. We are able to attend on you whilst you are held in custody, and can assist you in finalising any bail arrangements.