Move On Directions for Drunk or Disorderly Behaviour11 December 2022 in Criminal Law
In Australia, the summer season is filled with celebrations and festivities, and often involves the consumption of alcohol. It’s important to be aware of your rights and responsibilities when it comes to drinking in public and staying safe.
In NSW, there is no offence of public drunkenness as in other states (such as Victoria and Queensland’s ‘Drunk and Disorderly’ laws). Despite this lack of an explicit law, residents of NSW should be aware of move on directions and other rules surrounding how they behave in public while under the influence of alcohol.
What is a Move On Direction?
In general, the police have the power to give directions to individuals and the public.
Under the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002, a police officer has the authority to order a person to leave a public place (i.e. ‘move on’) if the officer believes on reasonable grounds that the person’s behaviour is disorderly or is likely to cause injury to another person, damage property or risk public safety. While under a move on direction, you can be ordered to stay away from an area for up to six hours.
A police officer can judge you as intoxicated if your speech, balance, co-ordination or behaviour is noticeably impacted, and it is reasonable to believe that this behaviour is the result of the consumption of alcohol or any drug.
Failure to follow a move on direction is an offence, punishable by a $220 fine.
A fine of $1,650 may be issued under The Summary Offences Act if your behaviour continues to be drunk and disorderly following a move on direction. You cannot, however, receive a fine under both laws for the same behaviour.
Additionally, a maximum fine of $660 or 3 months imprisonment can be imposed for engaging in ‘offensive’ behaviour in, close to, or within view or earshot of a public place in NSW. This offence can result in a conviction and a criminal record.
Can police detain an intoxicated person?
While you won’t be arrested in NSW for simply being drunk, the police may detain you if while intoxicated in a public area you are behaving in a manner likely to cause injury to another person, damage property or if you are in need of physical protection due to your drunken state.
In this instance, a police officer should take you to a family member or other responsible person to take care of you. If this is not possible, you may be placed in detention at a police station. Here, the police are authorised to search you. You have the right to contact a responsible person. Police should not place you in a cell unless there is nowhere else available, and you must be released as soon as you are no longer intoxicated.
Such police powers have been widely condemned in recent years, particularly similar powers in Victoria following the death of Aboriginal woman Tanya Day in custody after she was arrested for public intoxication.
How can BSM lawyers help me?
Our highly experienced criminal lawyers at Brander Smith McKnight can assist you with any queries regarding move on directions, and represent you if you have been charged with an offence.
Call us to arrange a free 20 minute no obligation consultation that includes case evaluation and cost estimate.