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Alcohol Charges In The UAE

Alcohol Charges In The UAE

The UAE’s alcohol laws are founded on Islamic principles and are designed to safeguard society from the harmful effects of alcohol use. Federal Law No. 3 of 1987, often known as the Penal Code, is the primary legislation that regulates alcohol use in the United Arab Emirates. Alcohol use, possession, and sale are prohibited in the UAE by law, except in places that have been granted a licence, like bars, clubs, and restaurants. The legislation is implemented by the UAE police and other authorities, and it applies to both Muslims and non-Muslims.

Dubai Law No. 1972 for Dubai and Law No. 8 of 1976 governing alcoholic drinks for Abu Dhabi)

Federal and local legislation make up UAE law. Before 1987, each emirate enforced its regional criminal laws (the Dubai Law No. 1972 for Dubai and Law No. 8 of 1976 governing alcoholic drinks for Abu Dhabi). The Federal Criminal Code was adopted in 1987 and is presently in effect throughout the Emirates. Nevertheless, each emirate has its own set of laws, although being controlled by UAE law.

For instance, the emirate of Sharjah has never provided alcohol and continues to do so, even in international hotels. However, foreigners have never required permission to purchase alcohol in the emirate of Ajman. But it was banned to drive through Sharjah after purchasing alcohol in Ajman if you lived in Dubai, for instance.

To improve the legal framework governing the sale and use of alcohol in the nation, the UAE government announced substantial changes to the alcohol laws in 2020. The modifications were made to promote responsible drinking and lessen the negative effects of alcohol. Old crimes like drinking alcohol without a licence were decriminalised.

Although customers legally needed to obtain a licence, stores, pubs, and restaurants hardly asked for one. Before selling alcohol in Dubai, stores had to request a licence from residents or a temporary licence from tourists.  Restaurants and bars do not request to see licences. This restriction is eliminated by Article 313 of Federal Decree-Law No.15 of 2020, allowing anyone to consume alcoholic drinks in permitted places without concern about legal repercussions. The modifications were made to ensure that the legislation was clear and to make it simpler for residents to get.

In the United Arab Emirates, the drinking age was raised from 18 to 21. The legislation states that individuals who provide or sell alcoholic drinks to anybody under the age of 21 or who purchase alcohol intending to give it to an underage person are solely subject to penalties.

The UAE government established a new licencing framework that permits authorised alcohol sellers to sell their products on e-commerce platforms. However, there are tight rules and restrictions governing the selling of alcohol online.

According to a memo provided to distributors and retailers, they are not obligated to request that customers provide a card proving their eligibility to purchase alcohol. Customers must be at least 21 years old; purchases must be made for personal, not commercial, use and alcohol must only be drunk in private residences or authorised locations. To ensure that only authorised businesses may offer alcohol delivery services and that deliveries are done to only authorised locations and people who are 21 years of age or older, the government additionally passed legislation governing these services.

The new regulations eliminate the requirement for ex-pats to get a permit to consume alcohol in hotels or to purchase it from retailers. But you must be at least 21 years old to drink. Instead of the temporary licence that travellers formerly need to purchase alcohol, establishments like Maritime and Mercantile International and African & Eastern now accept passports. However, they must drink at home.

Punishment and Fines

While it is permitted to consume alcohol in public places such as bars and restaurants, these establishments must have licences, which are often had by hotels. Even though you are permitted to purchase alcohol, it is still unlawful if you are found to be drinking on a beach or in a park that is not part of a hotel. It’s not acceptable to walk outdoors with a drink in your hand or to be intoxicated in public. The UAE government emphasised the consequences of drunkenness in public. If discovered to be inebriated in public, offenders can be punished with a fine of up to AED 5,000 (about $1,361) or up to six months in jail.

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is completely unacceptable in the UAE, and not even a single serving of chocolate liqueur is permitted. Penalties are severe, with a minimum of Dhs20,000 (about USD 5,500 or AUD 7,800), and incarceration is almost certainly the result.

In a recent decision (Federal Supreme Court judgement 1308 of 2020), the Union Supreme Court clarified the rules around alcohol consumption and possession. The court rules in this case that the local law of an Emirate shall take precedence over the Federal Criminal Code if this Emirate has jurisdiction and has local legislation that forbids the drinking of alcohol. Although the UAE’s top court passed this ruling, the UAE (a civil law country) has not any notion of precedent that is legally enforceable. As a result, the stance might shift based on further decisions.

In conclusion, the UAE’s alcohol laws are vigorously enforced, and those who break them risk facing harsh legal repercussions. To prevent any legal problems, it is crucial to be informed of the rules and legislation governing alcohol use in the UAE and to always abide by them. The changes introduced in 2020 are intended to make the legal framework for alcohol sales and use in the UAE stronger and to promote responsible drinking.

Important Note:

The material contained in this article should not be interpreted as legal counsel. If you have any questions about this topic or are involved in any legal disputes relating to it, Hassan Al Riyami Advocates and legal consultants will be pleased to talk with you during a 30-minute free legal consultation session.

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