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Guideline 58: Unduly intoxicated

Liquor Act 1992 – sections 9A, 42A, 156, 165 and 165A


This guideline is to assist licensees and other persons determine if a person is unduly intoxicated. Identifying a person as unduly intoxicated is a responsibility (particularly under section 156 - liquor prohibited to certain persons) of the Liquor Act 1992.

Legal definition of 'unduly intoxicated'

The Liquor Act states:

9A When a person may be taken to be unduly intoxicated

For this Act, a person may be taken to be unduly intoxicated if—

  1. the person's speech, balance, coordination or behaviour is noticeably affected; and
  2. there are reasonable grounds for believing the affected speech, balance, coordination or behaviour is the result of the consumption of liquor, drugs or another intoxicating substance.

Signs of undue intoxication

The Commissioner provides the following guidance to assist you in determining if a person is unduly intoxicated.

These signs may be considered when assessing for undue intoxication, but do not represent an exhaustive or conclusive list of the types of indications that may amount to a person being unduly intoxicated.


  • Incoherent or muddled speech
  • Loss of train of thought
  • Rambling or unintelligible conversation
  • Slurring words


  • Bumping into or knocking over furniture or people
  • Falling down or cannot stand
  • Difficulty walking straight
  • Staggering or stumbling
  • Swaying uncontrollably
  • Unsteady on feet


  • Difficulty counting or paying money and fumbling change
  • Difficulty opening or closing doors
  • Dropping drinks
  • Inability to find mouth with a glass
  • Spilling drinks


  • Aggressive
  • Annoying/pestering others
  • Argumentative
  • Bad tempered
  • Belligerent
  • Confused
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Not understanding normal conversation
  • Disorderly
  • Drowsiness or sleeping at a bar/table
  • Exuberant
  • Inappropriate sexual advances
  • Loss of inhibition
  • Loud/boisterous
  • Offensive
  • Overly friendly
  • Physically violent
  • Rude
  • Using offensive language
  • Vomiting

Reasonable belief for undue intoxication

A person may be considered to be unduly intoxicated if they show signs of undue intoxication and there are reasonable grounds for believing this is the result of consuming liquor, drugs or another intoxicating substance.

'Reasonable grounds for belief' is what a reasonable person would believe in the given situation.

If other causes for the signs of undue intoxication (known or stated) are absent, the Commissioner considers that a person's attendance at the licensed premises - seeking to purchase or consume liquor - is reasonable grounds for believing that their signs of undue intoxication are the result of consuming liquor, drugs or another intoxicating substance.

Speaking to a person about the possible causes for their signs of intoxication is important in meeting your obligations under the Liquor Act. It also ensures that you do not unlawfully discriminate against a person with mental or physical impairment/s.

Other considerations in assessing undue intoxication

Your observations of the quantity, rate and type of liquor consumed by a patron on the premises can help inform your assessment of undue intoxication when you observe them showing signs of intoxication.

However, a patron may arrive at the premises having already consumed liquor (or other intoxicating substances) or you may not have seen their previous consumption at the premises. Therefore, the fact that they have been seen consuming little or no liquor at the premises may not be relevant to your assessment of undue intoxication.

Also consider that the amount of liquor that each person consumes before becoming unduly intoxicated varies.

Issued 26 March 2015

Also consider...


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