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Offences in Licensed Premises

There are certain rules regarding licensed premises – such as bars, clubs and hotels – that apply in NSW. The most frequent offences relate to minors in licensed premises, and patrons refusing to leave licensed premises. When it comes to enjoying a day or evening out, it’s important to know your rights and obligations as a patron so that you don’t run into any trouble. The criminal lawyers at Brander Smith McKnight can help you understand your rights and obligations.

Refusing to leave a licensed premise

Under The Liquor Act 2007 (NSW), venues and police have the authority to remove or ban patrons from a licensed premises if they are endangering a safe and responsible environment.

It is an offence under Section 77 of The Liquor Act (the Act) to refuse to leave a licensed premises when directed to do so. This is punishable by a $550 on-the-spot fine or a maximum penalty of $5,500 if the case is brought to court.

An ‘authorised person’ (i.e. staff and police) can refuse to admit you into a venue or turn you away if:

  • You are intoxicated, disorderly, threatening or violent
  • You are suspected of using or possessing an illegal drug on the premises
  • You smoke in a smoke-free area
  • Your presence would make the premises liable for a penalty under the Act
  • Another condition of the licence requires your removal

Intoxication (or being drunk) is the most common reason for venues to remove or deny entry to a patron. Section 5 of the Act provides that a person is intoxicated if:

  1. Their speech, balance, co-ordination or behaviour is visibly impacted; and
  2. It is reasonable to believe that this is the result of drinking liquor.

According to the Act, an authorised person is allowed to use “such reasonable degree of force as may be necessary to turn a person out of licensed premises.”

If you are removed from or denied entry to a licensed premises, you must not without a reasonable excuse:

  • Remain in the vicinity (within 50 metres) of the premises
  • Re-enter the vicinity within 6 hours

You must also not attempt to re-enter the venue within 24 hours. An authorised person has the discretion to ban you for longer.

There are a few ‘reasonable excuses’ for you to remain at the licensed premises, for example:

  • You fear for your safety if you were to leave the premises
  • You need to stay in or re-enter the premises to obtain transport
  • You reside within the premises

You must prove this excuse ‘on the balance of probabilities.’ Self-defence, duress and necessity are also defences.

It is also important to know that you have rights if you suspect you are being unfairly discriminated against, under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 (NSW).

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Minors in licensed venues

While minors are allowed in many licensed venues in NSW, there are strict rules in place for some types of venues, particularly small bars, hotels and registered clubs.

Under The Liquor Act, anyone under the age of 18 can be fined for entering or remaining in certain venues and for consuming alcohol on a licensed premises. ​​Penalties can also apply to the parents or adults responsible for the minor. This is to ensure that minors are sufficiently supervised by an adult and to stop them from having access to alcohol.

Below is a list of underage drinking offences and the maximum penalty for both minors and the adults responsible for them.

Penalties for minors

  • Consume alcohol on licensed premises – $2,200
  • Obtain, or attempt to obtain, alcohol for consumption on licensed premises – $2,200
  • Carry away alcohol, or attempt to carry away alcohol from licensed premises – unless ordered or requested by another person – $2,200
  • Refuse to give name and address or age when requested by an authorised person – $2,200
  • Use false ID – $2,200
  • Enter or remain in a small bar when liquor is sold and supplied; remain in a bar area of a hotel or a registered club; or remain in part of a hotel without a responsible adult where the minor is required to be accompanied by a responsible adult – $2,200

Penalties for parents/responsible adults

  • Responsible adult allows minor to consume alcohol or leaves minor unaccompanied on certain licensed premises – $3,300
  • Obtain alcohol for a minor from licensed premises – $11,000 or 12 months imprisonment – or both
  • Send or order a minor to licensed premises to obtain alcohol – $3,300

It is important to be aware that payment of a penalty notice is not an admission of guilt and will not result in a criminal conviction or record. However, a court conviction will form part of a person’s criminal record.

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