Detecting and dealing with disorderly patrons

A person behaving in a disorderly manner, even if they are not drinking, can impact the enjoyment of other patrons and pose a risk to the safety of other patrons and staff at licensed premises and in the surrounding area. For these reasons it's important to know how to detect disorderly patrons and what to do once they have been identified.

Meaning of 'disorderly' behaviour

Disorderly behaviour is behaviour of an unruly nature that is contrary to public order or expectations. In simple terms, disorderly behaviour is behaviour that disturbs or interferes, or has the intention to disturb or interfere, with the comfort of others in a public setting, including in and around licensed venues. Examples of such behaviour include, but are not limited to:

  • obnoxious behaviour
  • behaviour that poses a safety risk to the person or others
  • physical and verbal acts of aggression or violence
  • indecent acts
  • harassment
  • offensive actions.

Note: While disorderly behaviour can be an indication of undue intoxication, a person does not need to be affected by liquor or other intoxicating substances in order to be disorderly.


Incoherent, rambling and slurring.


Rude, offensive, overly friendly, annoying, confused, aggressive, violent and inappropriate.


Unsteady on feet, staggering and swaying.


Spilling drinks, inability to find one's mouth with a glass, drowsiness and difficulty opening and closing doors.

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How to handle disorderly patrons

A disorderly patron can become violent, provoke violence from others, or cause injury to themselves and others. For these reasons, disorderly patrons must be refused service of alcohol, must not be allowed to consume alcohol and must be warned about their behaviour. Depending upon the seriousness of the behaviour, after being warned a licensee may choose to allow the disorderly patron to remain at the premises if they behave appropriately.

A licensee or permit holder and/or their staff can refuse entry or ask a person to leave if they are disorderly - it is an offence for a person to be disorderly on licensed premises.

If you ask a patron to leave the licensed premises, because they are being disorderly or causing a disturbance, they must do so immediately.

If the patron refuses to leave, or if they enter the premises after being refused entry, that patron commits an offence. In this case, the licensee or permit holder and/or their staff may use necessary and reasonable force to remove the patron.

For do's and don'ts when refusing service, read unduly intoxicated patrons and the responsible service of alcohol.

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