Being drunk in charge of a child can get you arrested

So this was featured in The Independent in July and was picked up by Alcohol Policy UK.   After a Russian heiress was found guilty of being drunk in charge of a child, the Independent dug out the 1902 licensing act.

The Summer’s social calendar is already in swing events from family barbecues to village fetes already lining up. However, while drinking when in charge of children at family events is common practice, it is also actually a breach of the law.

With even David Cameron leaving his eight-year-old daughter behind at a pub back in 2012, parents drinking while looking after their children is an everyday occurrence. But a century old law forbids the behaviour.

Being drunk while in charge of a child under the age of seven is illegal according to the 1902 licencing act. The law states that a fine or up to a month’s imprisonment would result if “any person is found drunk in any highway or other public place, or on any incensed premises, while having the charge of a child.”

“The threshold would be whether the child was compromised. If you’re having lunch with a couple of glasses of wine, you probably wouldn’t be considered drunk in charge of a child,” solicitor advocate Joy Merriam tells The Sun.

Being alert and capable of safeguarding your child are the key responsibilities that could be compromised by drinking irresponsibly. If parents are unable to look after their children and protect them from physical harm they could be committing the offence.

“There is no fixed amount under the current legislation, but it could certainly be argued that if you are an adult solely responsible for a child, it is better not to drink alcohol at all,” family lawyer Jo Shortland tells The Independent. 

However, Ms Merriam adds that in cases of this type where parents are arrested on suspicion of the offence, prosecutions are infrequent and most commonly passed on to social services.   

“Those responsible for children need to consider their own limitations and take a sensible approach to alcohol consumption,” family lawyer Deborah Heald tells The Independent. 

The charity Drinkaware also released the following advice for parents: “Drink within the low risk alcohol unit guidelines of not regularly drinking more than 14 units per week for both men and women, and spreading them evenly over three days or more. This shows your child that adults can enjoy alcohol in moderation.”

Edited to add: I suspect this includes if you are drunk on a plane!

Revealed: The growing problem of drunk and abusive fliers – and the worst routes for bad behaviour

Panorama: Plane Drunk (BBC One Panorama 8.30 pm tonight)

 

4 thoughts on “Being drunk in charge of a child can get you arrested

  1. Drinkaware advice made me want to spit. Or throw something. Might as well come right out with it and say “Teach your child that alcohol is a necessary and normal drug.” Drinkaware, funded by the alcohol industry – the same industry that has been blocking MUP in Scotland for the last 5 years – just a sop to appearances when actually the drinks industry is actually actively discouraging consumers from drinking responsibly. They are like the Childcatcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang – tempting with goodies then caging us in addiction.

  2. My friend got a DUI with her 15 year old in the car. She was right at our limit of .08.
    Instantly arrested, booked, cost her $16,000. She was lucky. Driving drunk with a child results in much higher penalties, including making it a felony.
    Of course, that does not stop people.
    No amount of alcohol is safe when driving children. And I would argue, driving period.
    Hugs from across the pond!
    xo
    Wendy

    1. Thanks for sharing your friend’s experience Wendy. Hugs to you too 🙂 xx

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