No ID, no alcohol, no exception
‘‘Extremely disappointed’’ is how the Waimakariri District Licensing Committee’s acting chair is feeling after a series of liquor licensing breaches in the region.
Controlled purchase operations (CPOs) carried out recently resulted in eight failures in eight months. To put that in perspective, that’s eight more than there have been in the past eight years.
Committee acting chair Neville Atkinson said the failures, which occurred across the district, highlighted a disturbing trend towards non-compliance by sports clubs and restaurants, including BYO premises.
‘‘This is not just taverns and hotels, it’s across the whole industry,’’ he said. ‘‘Eight in eight months is simply not good enough.
‘‘It may be more difficult for sports clubs as they have younger members but all that means is they need to be more vigilant. The biggest excuse is ‘it’s not my fault’.’’
Atkinson knows better than most the pitfalls of running a licensed premises — as an expublican who has been involved in the industry for nearly 30 years he understands both sides of the issue.
The law was in place for a good reason, he said, and while the drinking age may have changed, the basic rule remained the same: do not serve anyone who is underage.
‘‘Serving underage people has not changed in all the years I’ve been involved. If someone looks under 25, please, please ask for ID. If not, no service.’’
Atkinson said the measures were strictly enforced as a result of the public asking for that to happen, due to concerns over alcohol harm. Young people also needed to understand why they were being asked for ID, he said.
‘‘The consequences are serious — the liquor licensing committee is almost equivalent to a court of law. There will be cross- examining by us, the police, the officer of health... It’s a big ordeal.’’
A CPO failure will result in being charged by police, the Alcohol Regulatory and Licensing Authority (ARLA) will be involved and the premises will be closed for two or three days, even for a first offence.
On top of that the person who served the underage person may also be charged, and the duty manager will face having their licence suspended for 30 days.
A holding will be put on the business which will incur additional fees reflecting the fact it is in a higher risk category, and three holdings in three years results in being out of business.
Atkinson said a letter would now be sent out to all license holders who he urged to ‘‘get the message and fix it’’.
‘‘Everyone will be tested at some point. It’s a matter of when, not if.’’
The District Licensing Committee is disappointed in a string of recent liquor licensing breaches.