Alcohol Protection Orders - fact sheet

Police can issue an Alcohol Protection Order (APO) to a person who:

  1. Is charged with an offence punishable by six months' imprisonment or more (a qualifying offence); and
  2. Where a belief exists that he/she was affected by alcohol at the time of the offence's commission.

An APO prevents a person from:

  1. Possessing alcohol;
  2. Consuming alcohol; and
  3. Entering or being in licensed premises, except for the purposes of employment or residence.

It is an offence to engage in conduct that breaches an APO. It is a defence if the person charged supplies a reasonable excuse.

It is an offence to knowingly and intentionally supply alcohol to an adult, knowing that the person is subject to an APO.

The penalty for breaching the conditions of an APO, or knowingly supplying alcohol to someone subject to an APO is a fine of 25 penalty units ($3,600) and/or three months' imprisonment.

An APO is initially issued for a period of three months. Breaching that APO or committing another qualifying offence within 12 months of that order finishing may result in the issue of another APO of six months' duration, and breaching the six-month APO or committing another qualifying offence within 12 months of the end of the six-month APO may result in the issue of another APO that will be in force for twelve months.

If Police reasonably believe you are the subject of an Alcohol Protection Order, and that you may have consumed alcohol or have it in your possession, they can:

  1. Stop and detain you;
  2. Administer a breath test; and
  3. Search you and anything in your possession.

If you refuse a breath test in these circumstances, it is an offence and you may be arrested. If you are in possession of alcohol, Police Officers can seize it, and/or destroy it.

If you have been issued an APO, Police can give a licensee, or a person in charge of licensed premises your name and photograph, and inform them you are subject to an APO. This information will also include the end date of the APO.

Frequently asked questions

Q: "If I'm charged with an offence that could send me to prison for six months, will I automatically get an APO as well?"

A: No. Police have discretion as to whether or not they will issue an APO.

Q: "I hold a liquor permit for a regional area of the Northern Territory. What happens to that if I get handed an APO?"

A: Your permit will be revoked for the period the APO is in force.

Q: "Do I have to commit other, further offences before I breach my APO?"

A: No. Police can arrest you for breaching your APO, regardless of whether you are committing further offences. If you commit further offences while affected by alcohol, you will also commit the offence of breaching an APO.

Q: "I have an APO. Does this mean I can't drink in my own home?"

A: Yes. You are prohibited from the possession or consumption of alcohol anywhere for the duration of the APO.

Q: "What if my charges, which resulted in the issue of my APO were withdrawn, or if I'm found not guilty by the courts?"

A: The APO will be revoked on the day charges were withdrawn, or a not guilty finding was made by the court.

Q: "What if I disagree with the issue of my APO?"

A: You may, within three days of the APO's issue, lodge a written application for reconsideration at a Police Station. A senior Police Officer will examine the circumstances behind the issue of the APO, and decide whether to confirm or revoke the APO. You will receive written notice of the decision within three days of your application's lodgement. Your APO will remain in force during this time.

Q: "What if I'm still unhappy with the senior Police Officer's decision?"

A: You may apply to a local court to review that decision within seven days of the senior Police Officer's decision. The court will then review that decision. Your APO remains in force during this time.

Q: "My brother has an APO. Can I buy alcohol for him?"

A: No. You will commit the offence of supplying a person with alcohol, knowing that person to be subject of an APO.

Q: "Do I have to be charged by the Police to get an APO? I want to get off the grog."

A: No. You can apply for a voluntary APO at a Police Station. A Police Officer will consider your application, and if satisfied you understand the process and the penalty will issue you an APO. You can revoke your voluntary APO at any time by going to a Police Station and asking for it to be cancelled.

Q: "If I have an APO and Police give my photo to licensees, will they put it up in public?"

A: No. Your details will be visible to staff at licensed premises, but not to the general public. When the APO expires, Police will retrieve that information and destroy it.

Q: "I have an APO and live next to a local licensed supermarket. Can I go there to shop for food?"

A: No. The "licensed premises" area of these stores covers the entire premises. If you go there, even to buy food, you will breach your APO and commit an offence. If there are other supermarkets that are not licensed premises in the area in which you live, you will need to buy food there.

Q: "I have an APO and work on a station where the only place to buy food and fuel for hundreds of kilometres is a roadhouse, which also sells alcohol. Am I allowed to fuel up there, as I have to go inside the store to pay for it?"

A: In these circumstances, you would be classed as having a reasonable excuse due to the remoteness of the area. In any built-up area of the NT, you would not be able to use the "reasonable excuse" provision.

Q: "My 17-year-old cousin got drunk and stole a car. He was arrested and charged. Could he get an APO?"

A: No. APOs may only be issued to adults.