Al­co­hol and the law in Kuwait

Kuwait Times - - LOCAL - By At­tor­ney Fa­jer Ahmed

Iam ex­tremely grate­ful that my clients and readers come from all walks of life and that I get to work with com­pa­nies and in­di­vid­u­als. I am also very happy that I can reach out to ex­pats with my le­gal writ­ings and ex­plain to them my coun­try’s leg­is­la­tion, mak­ing their tran­si­tion to Kuwait eas­ier. Kuwaitis are so blessed to be exposed to the di­ver­sity of peo­ple in Kuwait and to learn from them and their cul­ture. The di­ver­sity of na­tion­al­i­ties in Kuwait is just amaz­ing.

I also know that out of 196 coun­tries in the world, less than 15 have leg­is­la­tion that bans al­co­hol. So it is no sur­prise that there is a lot of con­fu­sion among ex­pats about the con­sump­tion of al­co­hol in Kuwait. What adds to the con­fu­sion is that the con­sump­tion of al­co­hol in Kuwait as an act, in it­self is not il­le­gal. But there are re­stric­tions in­volv­ing the con­sump­tion of al­co­hol that I will be dis­cussing to­day by an­swer­ing your ques­tions. This post does not in­clude my opin­ion on the mat­ter, but in­stead it is a fac­tual rep­re­sen­ta­tion of the law.

Not driv­ing

Ques­tion: I was drink­ing at a party at the week­end, and I know it is not right to drink and drive, there­fore I got into a cab. Yet there was a po­lice check and they talked to the cab driver and that’s when I started talk­ing to the po­lice of­fi­cer. The po­lice of­fi­cer re­al­ized that I had been drink­ing and he took me to the po­lice sta­tion. I don’t un­der­stand. I was not driv­ing.

Fa­jer: This is one of the most com­mon con­cerns that I re­ceive. Be­cause there is an ma­jor em­pha­sis in the West about drink­ing and driv­ing, many peo­ple mis­tak­enly think it is okay to drink in Kuwait, as long as they don’t drive. That is not true. The pun­ish­ment is as fol­lows:

Ar­ti­cle 206(d) of Kuwait Pe­nal Law states that ‘Any per­son who takes al­co­holic or in­tox­i­cat­ing bev­er­ages to a pub­lic place or to a place where he may be seen by oth­ers be it a pub­lic place or a pri­vate club and any per­son who brings the al­co­holic or in­tox­i­cat­ing bev­er­age to the said place for an­other per­son to con­sume shall be pe­nal­ized for a pe­riod not ex­ceed­ing six months and/or fined not more than KD50. Any per­son who is found drunk will be pun­ished the same.

Worst case sce­nario

Ques­tion: I was at a party and we had a lot to drink, after drink­ing we went down­stairs and got into a car. I was drunk but I was not driv­ing, my friend was. We were driv­ing down the road, and my friend cut an­other car off. This made the other per­son lose his tem­per. So he stopped the car and my friend and this guy got into a fight. The po­lice showed up and ob­vi­ously we all had to go to the po­lice sta­tion. This is when the po­lice of­fi­cers found out that I was drink­ing and there­fore de­cided to hold me at the po­lice sta­tion and put a case against me.

A.) What can I do?

Fa­jer: You need to get a lawyer as soon as pos­si­ble. You will need to give the lawyer a Power of At­tor­ney. Make sure you tell your lawyer the truth, so they can de­cide what to do.

B.) What could I be pun­ished for? What will hap­pen?

Fa­jer: Although there is no crime for con­sum­ing al­co­hol in pri­vate, be­ing un­der the in­flu­ence in pub­lic could cause the po­lice to ques­tion you or keep you at the po­lice sta­tion un­til you are no longer un­der the in­flu­ence. I can’t fully say what will hap­pen as I don’t know the specifics of the story. Were peo­ple hurt? Did you talk back to the po­lice? Did you get vi­o­lent at the fight, and so on. Usu­ally though, th­ese are the steps taken:

1. They will ask for your blood/urine test to see the per­cent­age of al­co­hol in your body and add it to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

2. An in­ves­ti­ga­tor will ask you to come in and ask you ques­tions about the in­ci­dent.

3. A case will be opened and for­warded to court from the pub­lic pros­e­cu­tor. Pun­ish­ment op­tions will be writ­ten in the state­ment.

C.) What is the worst case sce­nario? Fa­jer:

Again, I can­not an­swer the ques­tions as I don’t know the full cir­cum­stances, but be­ing un­der the in­flu­ence in pub­lic as I have stated above there is a pun­ish­ment and it can be ei­ther de­por­ta­tion and/or a fine of up to KD 50 and/or jail time of up to six months. Usu­ally if it is your first of­fense and no one else was hurt, you will be let off the hook.

I hope the above is help­ful, please stay le­gal and safe.

For any le­gal ques­tions or queries, email ask@fa­jerthelawyer.com.

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