Key points for the public

For the public, the main features of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 include these items.

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Trading hours

The maximum trading hours during which licensed businesses can sell alcohol in New Zealand are:

  • 8am - 4am for on-licences and clubs (such as bars, pubs and nightclubs)
  • 7am - 11pm for off-licences (such as bottle stores, supermarkets and grocery stores).

Local councils may set different trading hours as part of a local alcohol policy. Check with your council to see if it has a policy in place.

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Not your kid? Not your call

The Act places more responsibility on those who provide alcohol to young people and gives parents more control.

You can only supply alcohol to a person under the age of 18 years if:

  • you are their parent or legal guardian; or
  • you have express consent from their parent or legal guardian; or
  • the young person is married, in a civil union or living with a de facto partner.

Express consent may include a personal conversation, an email or a text message that you have good reason to believe is genuine.

The law applies to everyone, regardless of their age, who supplies alcohol to a young person. Unless you're certain you have permission from a minor's parent or legal guardian, don't give alcohol to anyone under 18.

There's a penalty of up to $2000 for breaching the law.

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Supply alcohol responsibly to young people

Anyone (including parents) who supplies alcohol to a person under the age of 18 years must do so responsibly.

For example, you should make sure food and non-alcoholic drinks are available, arrange safe transport, and take steps to supervise the drinking and limit the strength and amount of alcohol that's supplied.

The penalty for failing to supply alcohol responsibly is a fine of up to $2000.

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On-the-spot fines

You may be given an infringement notice and have to pay a fine if you:

  • drink or have an open container of alcohol anywhere in a public place in a liquor ban area. This includes locations such as car parks and school grounds, not just streets and parks.
  • present a fake ID
  • use someone else's ID to buy alcohol
  • give or lend an ID to an underage person if you know they intend to use it to buy alcohol.

The penalty for breaching these laws is an infringement fee of $250.

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Intoxicated people will not be served

If you're intoxicated, staff of licensed businesses cannot serve you or allow you to remain on the premises. This is the same as the previous law.

The Act clearly defines 'intoxicated'. This means staff may refuse to serve you, ask you to leave or remove you from the premises if you're affected by alcohol or other drugs or substances and you're displaying 2 or more of the following conditions:

  • affected appearance
  • impaired behaviour
  • impaired co-ordination, or
  • impaired speech.

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Other changes

The Act also gives communities more say on alcohol licensing, such as determining maximum trading hours in their area, limiting the location of licensed premises near certain facilities such as schools and widening the grounds for objecting to licences.

Find out more about community involvement

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Resources & useful information

The Health Promotion Agency has a range of resources and publications designed to help people understand and comply with the new laws.

alcohol.org.nz (external link)

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