Breathalyser-wielding fun police will be sent to test drinkers inside Queensland venues, as part of a set of radical new state government measures aimed at curbing alcohol-fuelled violence.
Under the proposed laws, which the Gold Coast Bulletin reports are tipped to be in place by November, police officers would be sent in to pubs and clubs, armed with breathalysers, to essentially crash people’s nights out by testing them for drunkenness.
Breath test readings would then be used to build a case against the venues, with those deemed to be spawning drunk punters to face prosecution.
Define “drunk”? Well, as the Bulletin reports, the blood-alcohol limits for drivers might soon become the standard by which club drunks are assessed — meaning drinking the equivalent of a six-pack could soon be the measure of a big night on the town.
“Allowing police to breathalyse drunken patrons will help them to build cases for prosecution for court,” Attorney General Yvette D’Ath told the paper. “For example, police consider a (blood-alcohol) reading of 0.15 to be highly intoxicated.”
As a result, venues may soon be forced to start counting punters’ drinks, or else risk fines of up to $56,000 (and, probably, their own destruction).
The proposed laws have already been attacked on a number of grounds, with bar owners pointing out that staff have no way of knowing a person’s blood-alcohol level before they serve them.
Owner of Broadbeach restaurant and nightclub East, James Tweddell, has also slammed the measures as being draconian and ridiculous: “If someone is arrested and has committed a crime and police want to breathalyse him, I support that,” he told the Bulletin.
“But if someone wants to enjoy a night out, like a 40th, and the cops are going to walk in and breathalyse people at a venue, then that is ludicrous.”
Other measures tabled by the state government as a solution to curbing “alcohol-fuelled violence” include Sydney-style lockout laws, including bringing the existing 3am lockout forward to 1am, the 5am closing time forward to 3am, and instituting bans on serving shots and other drinks deemed to have “high-alcohol content” after midnight.
It’s relevant to note that in Sydney, former Premier Barry O’Farrell’s notorious lockout laws have been blamed for destroying the city’s culture and nightlife, causing the closure of several venues, resulting in more pedestrian-related car accidents around the CBD, as well as triggering a rise in violence outside the designated lockout zones.
Next step, prohibition?
UPDATE 22/06/15: Queensland’s Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath has denied reports that the government are looking to introduce measures that would allow random breath tests inside licensed venues.