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The Law on Serving Drunks

The BBPA is working alongside Drinkaware to raise awareness of the law surrounding the serving and purchasing of alcohol for drunk people.


With input from the Home Office and in support of its Modern Crime Prevention Strategy, the BBPA has rejuvenated its poster campaign designed for use by licensed premises to help raise awareness of the laws on buying alcohol for a drunk person, or knowingly selling alcohol to a drunk person. The BBPA has worked alongside Drinkaware and National Pubwatch to create the campaign, which aims to support staff in upholding these laws and ensuring a safe and sociable drinking environment for all. The BBPA continues to work alongside Drinkaware on the campaign and will be expanding the campaign later in 2016.


The posters are free for licensees to download from the BBPA and Drinkaware websites.


The BBPA has also produced two animations based on commissioned research from YouGov to gauge current awareness of the laws:
Mate's in a state
Can't get served?


Legal framework

It is an offence under the Licensing Act 2003 to sell to, or obtain alcohol for, a person who is drunk on licensed premises.


In practical terms this includes:


• Selling an alcoholic drink to someone who you know is drunk


• Buying an alcoholic drink for someone who you know is drunk


Staff in licensed premises can be put in a very difficult position and could risk breaking the law if pressurised to serve drunk customers. These resources provide an important tool to help staff enforce the law. They also inform anyone trying to buy an alcoholic drink for a drunk friend that they are breaking the law.


Although there is no legal definition of drunkenness, the Section 182. Guidance to the Licensing Act highlights the offences and the significant penalties for not complying with the law in this area.


These include:


• A fine for the individual of up to £1,000


• The risk of losing a premises licence if the premises is taken to review based on this issue


Beer and pub industry initiatives

BBPA members have also played their part in a range of initiatives to promote responsible drinking, including by giving consumers a wider choice of lower strength products and smaller servings as well as providing clear accessible alcohol unit awareness information in pubs and working to prevent underage sales through the successful Challenge 21 campaign.


BBPA and members also provide funding for Drinkaware for their work in providing evidence based information on alcohol and responsible drinking.