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The Attorney General’s Chambers and Ministry of Legal Affairs wishes to remind the public, as well as bar owners and operators, of the provisions of the Intoxicating Liquor Licensing (Amendment) Act 2022. The principal objectives of the Amendment Act are to, among other things, create a mechanism for licence holders to be more accountable by imposing obligations that require them to play a more active role in the prevention of drinking and driving.
The Government of Guyana continues to be concerned with the senseless deaths on our roadways which, many times, are attributable to drunken driving. Mindful of this reality, and in an effort to combat the devastating effects which are caused by drunken driving, amendments to several pieces of legislation, including the Motor Vehicle and Road Traffic Act and the Intoxicating Liquor Licensing Act were enacted and came into operation in 2022.
Unfortunately, based upon reports and complaints received, it appears that license holders, particularly bar owners, have not been in compliance with their obligations imposed under the Intoxicating Liquor Licensing (Amendment) Act. An appeal is hereby made to such bar owners to play their part in the promotion of the public good and the preservation of a safe society, free from drunken driving.
Bar owners who are not in compliance with their obligations under the Amendment Act, will be charged and prosecuted.
A few important sections of the Amendment Act are summarized hereunder: 1
Section 4: inserts a new section ‘54A’ into the Principal Act. This new section imposes a duty upon license owners or their servants to verify the age of a person before employing such person, selling any intoxicating liquor to them, or allowing them into any bar on the licensed premises.
Section 5: amends section 54 of the Principal Act. It expands license holders existing obligations not to permit drunkenness on the licensed premises and creates new obligations which require the license holder to discourage drinking and driving.
Some of the obligations imposed on the license holder include:
(a) Not permitting drunkenness or any violent, quarrelsome, or riotous conduct to take place on his premises;
(b) Not to sell, give or barter intoxicating liquor to a drunken person; (c) Not to allow another person [for example an employee or servant] to sell, give or barter intoxicating liquor to a drunken person;
(d) Not to sell, give or barter intoxicating liquor to a person he knows is likely to leave the premises by driving unless that person has identified another person to be the designated driver of the motor vehicle;
(e) Not to sell, give or barter intoxicating liquor to any person identified as a designated driver;
(f) To inform the nearest police station and request their immediate assistance in cases where he knows that a drunken person is attempting to drive or is in charge of a motor vehicle on the road or other public place;
(g) Post signs that discourage drinking and driving at conspicuous places on the licensed premises;
(h) Ensure that announcements are made at regular intervals on the premises that persons should not drink and drive.
Additionally, section 54 has also been amended to increase the fines for breach of these obligations by the license holder to G$100,000 for the first offence, and to G$200,000 for a second offence.
Section 6: amends section 56 of the Principal Act. This amendment now makes it mandatory that a license holder refuse to admit any person who is drunk, violent, quarrelsome or disorderly into his licensed premises. This section has also been amended to increase the fines to be paid for breach of this provision to G$100,000.
Below, are templates of signs, which are being provided for the purposes of guidance only. These templates may be placed in conspicuous places at the licensed premises.
Postscript: Copies of the Intoxicating Liquor Licensing (Amendment) Act 2022 can be obtained at an affordable price from Parliament Office, Public Buildings, or can be accessed for free on the website of the Official Gazette at: https://officialgazette.gov.gy/images/gazette2022/nov/Extra_15NOVEMBER2