Drinking in public

Over-18s

Drinking in public places is legal unless there is an alcohol ban in place.

Alcohol bans are becoming increasing popular in New Zealand. Towns and cities around the country are introducing them in an attempt to reduce alcohol-related crime, violence and public disorder in public places.

An alcohol ban prohibits the possession or consumption of liquor for specific days, hours and public locations. These are set by local councils – usually as a bylaw.

In some areas liquor bans are used only for specific events – e.g., New Year’s Eve or Cuba Street Carnival. Alternatively, it can be a permanent bylaw, imposing liquor bans for specific locations at specified times.

A liquor ban gives police power to search a person for alcohol. They can seize, destroy or confiscate it. Liquor bans are just one tool available to police to assist them to deal with alcohol-related crime and disorder.

The bans aim to address local authorities' concerns about public drinking in particular problem areas, such as:

  • town centres

  • shopping centre car parks

  • beaches

Anyone disobeying local liquor bans are liable to arrest and may be fined.

Before Police can search a vehicle or a container (such as a package or bag) which they suspect contains alcohol, Police must provide the person in possession of the vehicle or container an opportunity to remove the container or vehicle from the area.

Under-18s

Even if there is no alcohol ban in place, under the Summary Offences Act it is illegal for anyone under 18 years of age to consume or possess alcohol in a public place.

If you break this law, you may have to pay an infringement fee of $200 or a fine of up to $300. The police can also confiscate the alcohol. It is legal for parents or guardians to allow teenagers to drink at home or at other private gatherings.
 

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