36 fined under new alcohol laws

Christchurch police are seeing the benefits of new booze laws as they tackle one of the busiest alcohol-fuelled weeks of the year.

Within 48 hours of the new liquor laws taking effect, police had cracked down on liquor ban violators, handing out several $250 on-the-spot fines to wayward drinkers.

More than 120 officers last night descended on Christchurch to check bars for drunk patrons and pre-empting trouble brought on by holiday drinking.

The new Sale and Supply of Liquor Act took effect on Wednesday.

The legislation defined intoxication for the first time, allowing police to clamp down on bar owners serving drunks.

Intoxication under the new law is defined as displaying impaired speech, impaired behaviour, or impaired co- ordination.

Offenders risk a $10,000 fine and loss of licence for five years under the new three-strikes system.

Canterbury deployment manager Inspector Peter Cooper said police carried out 126 compliance checks at 56 different licensed premises last night and issued 36 infringement notices under the new law.

The offences included breaches of liquor bans and unaccompanied minors.

"In general the city was busy with a number of office and workplace functions," he said.

A number of drink-driving checkpoints were also held across the city, catching 25 drivers with excess breath alcohol.

Another 39 arrests were made last night for a variety of other "alcohol-fueled" offences, Cooper said.

Carlton Hotel general manager Steve Holmes said the new laws were "just business as usual for us".

"The law has upped the ante and put a bit more pressure on people, but good operators have nothing to worry about."

Holmes had noticed a strong police presence this week and was happy to have them on standby.

"To me, it's the same as seeing a cop in the middle of the road checking speed. You don't speed," he said.

Hospitality New Zealand Canterbury president Peter Morrison said the first few days under the new law had been drama-free.

He had not heard of any problems from the industry and predicted the effects would be minor.

Drink-driving was a priority for police this Christmas and every motorist stopped over the holiday period would be breath-tested.

Liquor bans are in place in the central city, Hagley Park, the South Colombo area, Riccarton, Ilam, Merivale, and Papanui.

The Press