Most drinkers comply with new laws - police

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 24/12/2013

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@devlincolle: Southlanders are taking heed of new alcohol laws, happy bar owners and police say.

New laws regulating the sale of alcohol came in on Wednesday and so far have proved successful at curbing alcohol-related incidents in the region.

The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 Act aims to improve New Zealand's drinking culture and reduce the harm caused by excessive drinking.

Invercargill Licensing Trust general manager Greg Mulvey said there were no problems on its licensed premises or at the busy Kiln street party on Friday.

"I have to say, there was a reasonable degree of awareness among patrons . . . people seemed to be more informed and management were well versed with the changes," he said.

Tillermans music lounge owner Tim Smellie said there had been a noticeable difference among patrons.

People seemed to know about the new laws and were well behaved in Tillys and The Vinyl bar.

A few people were "seen to the door" but nothing from the norm, he said. If staff were in doubt that a person was intoxicated, they did not give them the benefit of the doubt.

"Nothing has really changed for the staff - if we keep doing what we are doing, we will be good."

Senior Sergeant Bruce Terry, of Invercargill, said it appeared the new measures worked.

There were formal warnings and some tickets handed out, but no major incidents, he said.

Southern District Command Centre Senior Sergeant Kelvin Lloyd said at a district level there was positive feedback from officers about the new legislation.

Police can now issue alcohol infringement notices for a range of new offences, including breaching local alcohol bans, lending ID to an under-18-year-old, and presenting a fake ID. There is a $250 fine for each offence.

Officers took advantage of having the ability to deal with offenders without locking them up, but that option was still there, he said.

A new definition of "intoxicated" has been introduced and bar staff cannot serve intoxicated people or allow them to stay on their premises.

The reforms puts more limits on young people's access to alcohol, places more responsibility on those who provide alcohol to them and it gives parents more control.

Trading hours are now from 8am-4am for on-licences, but Invercargill's voluntary 3am closures will still apply. Off-licences can open from 7am-11pm.

The laws ban all advertising and marketing outside pubs which promotes excessive alcohol consumption or has special appeal to minors. The penalty is a fine of up to $10,000, and a business' licence may also be suspended or cancelled.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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