Police welcome new law on liquor

South Canterbury police will adopt a "commonsense" approach to tougher rules that start today on supplying liquor to minors.

Changes to the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act give police powers to issue fines of up to $2000 to adults who supply alcohol to minors without consent of a parent or guardian.

Sergeant Grant Lord said it would be "business as usual" in many respects, and encouraged parents to exercise host responsibility over Christmas.

"We already have a strong network in the community keeping us informed if they witness parties getting out of hand, or behaviour that isn't responsible," he said.

"These law changes will make it easier for hosts and police alike."

Mr Lord said common sense would be the best approach.

"If you're serving a glass of wine with a large meal, that would be OK but, if the guardian hands a minor a box of two-dozen beers and doesn't supply any food, that is clearly irresponsible," he said.

Police would educate the community about the new rules.

"The onus goes back on the host. There will be occasions where the complainant might not have all the facts and, in some cases, we will have to question the hosts after the event," he said.

"It's going to be a 'horses for courses' type approach."

Mr Lord said prosecutions for individuals selling alcohol to minors were rare.

However, over the past 18 months, South Canterbury police carried out "spot visits" of nearly 150 licensed premises and about 10 per cent failed to comply with the rules by serving liquor to minors.

Last year, Timaru police apprehended about 150 people breaching the liquor ban.

Also 20 sale-of-liquor-act infringement notices were issued, mostly pertaining to minors drinking in a public place.

Mr Lord said the Timaru District Council's ratification of its Local Alcohol Policy would also provide clearer rules on operating for licensed premises.

From today, the maximum operating hours are 8am to 4am for on-licences, and 7am to 11pm for off-licences, but councils have the ability to reduce this.

The Timaru Herald