Clarity Law

Specialist Criminal Law Firm Queensland
Monday, 04 December 2023 16:24

Introduction to Liquor Law Infringements

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liquor licence offences qld

Under Queensland law, the serving of alcohol by business establishments is regulated by legislation, with hefty penalties for non-compliance with the laws. This article will touch on these penalty provisions, rather than the laws with respect to applications for liquor licences.

 

The Relevant Laws

Liquor Regulation 2002

Liquor (Approval of Adult Entertainment Code) Regulation 2002

Wine Industry Regulation 2009

 

Offences and Penalties

The liquor laws are enforced by specially appointed police and Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation investigators. The laws apply to those who sell liquor, whether a licenced premises or even online.

Under the Liquor Act 1992, there are more than 100 offences. They are generally dealt with by way of “on the spot” fines, which can be as high as $3,096 or as low as $309. The higher fines are for such infringements as:

  • A manager of a licenced premises selling liquor to a minor.
  • A manager of a licenced premises failing to prevent a minor from being in a pokies area.
  • A manager of a licenced premises allowing liquor to be supplied to a minor.
  • A manager of a licenced premises allowing liquor to be consumed by a minor on the premises.
  • Selling liquor without a licence.
  • Displaying liquor for sale without a licence.

The lower fines are for such infringements as:

  • Failure to comply with Commissioner’s direction to repair ID scanner.
  • Licensee fail to keep premises clean or in good repair.
  • Fail to obtain approval for premises name change.
  • Licensee allow sale, supply or consumption of liquor in car park.

More serious infringements can lead to fines of tens of thousands of dollars and other penalties. For example:

  • Allow a disorderly patron to consume liquor: Maximum $77,400.
  • Licensee engages in practices or promotions that encourage rapid or excessive consumption of liquor: Maximum $15,480.
  • Failure to comply with CCTV conditions: Maximum $15,480.
  • Allow intoxicated patron to consume liquor (how many times would this occur each weekend?): Maximum $77,400.
  • Selling alcohol without a licence: up to $154,800 and 18 months imprisonment.

In case these eye-watering fines were not enough, the laws also give authorities the power to punish breaches of the Act by forcing a business to limit its opening ours, close its premises, or even cancel its liquor licence entirely.

 

What If You are Fined for A Liquor Licensing Matter?

An individual or business need not accept an on-the-spot fine, especially in circumstances where operators of the venue or staff had no knowledge of the offence. Offences like “allowing a disorderly patron to consume liquor” raises some subjective questions such as: what is disorderly? What if the person consumed liquor out of sight of staff? What if the person was briefly ‘disorderly’ and then settled down? In ambiguous cases like these it may well be worth challenging a massive fine or licence restriction.

A matter can be challenged in the Magistrates Court. Assuming a solicitor is engaged, this will then open the door to negotiations with the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation, with an aim of getting rid of the infringements entirely, or at least reducing the fines. Liquor licences are costly enough as it is (thousands of dollars) without business owners or employees being hit with hefty fines for possibly unintentional infractions.

If you find yourself in such a situation, Clarity Law can help. We are experienced in defending traffic, criminal and regulatory matters. We don’t take Legal Aid cases which means your case will get the attention it deserves.

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Jacob Pruden

Jacob is a former barrister and now criminal defence lawyer with over 8 years experience appearing in courts throughout South East Queensland representing clients charged with criminal offences.