28 April 2021

Kiwis want bigger fines for drunk and disorderly behaviour

Almost three-quarters (74%) of New Zealanders support tougher penalties for drunk and disorderly behaviour according to industry research. Furthermore, nearly two-thirds (65%) support on-the-spot fines minor alcohol-related offences, says the NZ Alcohol Beverages Council (NZABC). 

“Kiwis have indicated a low-tolerance for anti-social behaviour and harmful drinking by showing their support for heavier fines and on-the-spot fines to reduce these behaviours. Our research also shows support for these harm-reduction measures has increased year-on-year,” says Bridget MacDonald, Executive Director of the NZ Alcohol Beverages Council.

“Although the vast majority (81.5%) of us drink moderately and responsibly, those that do not can potentially cause harm to themselves or others. Some of these harmful drinkers concentrate in social hot spots, therefore the use of fines could be targeted and instantly effective in reducing this type of behaviour and keeping our cities safe and social for everyone,” Bridget says.

“Instant fines were something the industry supported being introduced when the alcohol laws were changed in 2012, but they were never adopted. They just make sense as part of a larger programme to make positive changes in our drinking culture and attitudes to alcohol,” she said. 

“We still have room for improvement with one in five people drinking harmfully in the past year. But we are seeing positive trends such as a general decline in hazardous drinking, fewer younger people drinking, and our consumption is decreasing and below the OECD average. Targeted education and support programmes are vital to encourage the good behaviours and attitudes and we need some deterrents and consequences to stamp out the bad,” Bridget says. 

Need more information?

 Check out cheers.org.nz and alcoholandme.org.nz for more information on what a standard drink is and how to make better drinking decisions.

A good rule of thumb is ‘Go no, low or slow’. It’s okay to choose no or low alcohol drinks. If you choose to drink, pace yourself and enjoy your drink slowly.

Ministry of Health/HPA Guidelines: Low-risk alcohol drinking advice to reduce your long-term health risks by drinking no more than:

Two standard drinks a day for women and no more than 10 standard drinks a week,

Three standard drinks a day for men and no more than 15 standard drinks a week,

AND have at least two alcohol-free days every week.

Need help?

Call the Alcohol Drug Helpline on 0800 787 797, free txt 8681, or visit alcoholdrughelp.org.nz.

 [i] NZ Alcohol Beverages Council, New Zealander’s attitudes to alcohol research, December 2020, poll of 1000 New Zealanders undertaken by Curia Market Research. Respondents were read out some measures that other people have advocated would reduce alcohol-related harm and asked if they would strongly oppose, somewhat oppose, somewhat support, or strongly support the measure. Support for these measures has increased on the previous year:

– Heavier fines for drunk and disorderly behaviour: 74% support; 16% oppose (2019: 67% support; 11% oppose). 

– Allow Police to issue spot fines for minor alcohol-related offences: 65% support; 18% oppose (2019: 54% support; 18% oppose) 

[ii] New Zealand Health Survey 2019/20, November 2020, https://www.health.govt.nz/publication/annual-update-key-results-2019-20-new-zealand-health-survey Four in five adults (81.5%) drank alcohol in the past year and are moderate drinkers. One in five drank (20.9%) in a hazardous way. https://minhealthnz.shinyapps.io/nz-health-survey-2019-20-annual-data-explorer/_w_e434a146/#!/explore-indicators

[iii] StatsNZ Infoshare, Alcohol available for consumption to December 2020 (published 25 February 2021), http://archive.stats.govt.nz/infoshare/. Alcohol available for consumption has been trending downward for a number of years. Data shows alcohol available for consumption was 8.719 litres per head of population (15 years and older) in December 2020 and 9.607 litres in 2010, resulting in a 9.2% decrease (see graph 1 below). There has been a 15.4% decrease since 1990 when it was 10.316 litres, and a 22.7% decrease since 1986 when the data was first collected where there was 11.282  litres per head of population (15 years and older) in December 2020. Note: The per head of population (15 years and older) is the measure used by the OECD.

OECD Alcohol Consumption, https://data.oecd.org/healthrisk/alcohol-consumption.htm. Alcohol consumption is defined as annual sales of pure alcohol in litres per person aged 15 years and older. The OECD average consumption is 8.9 litres/capita (aged 15 and over). New Zealand is at 8.8 litres/capita. See graph 3 below. Source: OECD Health Statistics, 2019. New Zealand figures as at 2018.