Is It Legal To Buy Your Intoxicated Friend Another Drink?

It's a common occurrence: You're having a great night down the pub when one of your mates is abruptly refused service for being intoxicated. Usually they're no more drunk than anyone else, but just happened to slur their voice while ordering. In these situations, it can be tempting to buy them a sneaky tipple so they can continue to drink and make merry. It turns out this is a costly mistake.

Drunk women picture from Shutterstock

Licensed premises face hefty fines if they knowingly serve alcohol to intoxicated patrons. It's for this reason that tipsy customers are often refused service, even if they aren't being incoherent, uncoordinated or aggressive.

What you might not know is that it's not just the venue that needs to watch out — patrons can also be fined if they're caught giving liquor to an inebriated friend. As explained on the NSW Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing (OLGR) website:

It is an offence for patrons to supply alcohol to an intoxicated person on licensed premises. Offenders face a maximum fine of $1100.

Similar rules are upheld in all states and territories across Australia. In other words, while it's the responsibility of the venue to prevent patrons from becoming intoxicated, you can still be held personally liable for plying a drunk friend with drinks.

Better order them a soda water just to stay safe, eh? Either that, or go get maggoted in the privacy of your own home. [He means "drink responsibly." — Legal Dept.]

Did you just catch yourself wondering if something was legal or not? Let us know and we may be able to answer it in our next Is It Legal? feature.


    What's the definition of intoxicated? As in, if the police were to prosecute a bar for serving someone who was intoxicated, what is the quantified level of intoxication required? Or does it just come down to police discretion?

      Despite what drinkresponsibly says below, yeah it's pretty much up the discretion of who ever is making the call. Server, Supervisor, Manager or Police officer. The Supervisor/Management is meant to back me up the server if they cut somebody off.

      I once was working a bar when one of the newer people tried to cut a guy off because he sneezed (he turned around and covered his mouth and didn't sneeze on the cash) in the middle of his order for him and three friends. It took a lot of effort to convince the noob that sneezing doesn't mean you are intoxicated.

      Liquor Act 2007 (NSW)
      (a) the person’s speech, balance, co-ordination or behaviour is noticeably affected, and
      (b) it is reasonable in the circumstances to believe that the affected speech, balance, co-ordination or behaviour is the result of the consumption of liquor.
      There's also been harsher definitions used "A person who is under the affect of alcohol" - but by that definition you're screwed after the first sip.

    Isn't it a bigger issue that the concept on a great night at the club dependent on you getting more drunk...drinking a soda for the next half an hour really going to ruin your night?

      Your right, but tell that to the idiots who gauge the weekend by how out of it they where. Because no matter how good your weekend was, won the lotto, did what you love most all weekend, achieved massive success in short and long term goals. Well Baz here lost $500 in the pokies and spent the weekend drunk off his arse picking fights, your weekend sucks ya pussy.

      I once asked a guy why he needed to get blind drunk when he went out, he said it was so his mates didn't seem like dickheads.

        My answer probably would've been, "So I can temporarily drug myself into forgetting the pointlessness of existence, the inevitability of mortality, and the certainty of all but the 0.0001% pinnacle of life achievement being utterly forgotten within two generations, leaving us to enjoy a brief existence spent trapped in a work-eat-sleep paradigm of generating wealth and luxury for those who had the good fortune to be born with wealth or no conscience."

        Last edited 15/09/15 7:24 am

    the fact that this is a question is why Sydney is trialling lockout laws. If you think it's okay - or need to be told it's NOT ok - to buy an intoxicated person a drink then you really shouldn't be allowed out on your own.

    And generally if the onsite security are doing their jobs properly, they're keeping an eye on your mate anyway. And its the quickest way to get your entire party kicked out.

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