Police in central Auckland issued a handful of infringement notices early yesterday morning as sweeping new alcohol laws came into effect.

From midnight yesterday, the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act meant bars had to close at 4am and gave police power to issue infringement notices for a range of new offences, including breaching alcohol bans, lending an under-18 identification, and presenting a fake ID.

Each infringement is punishable with a $250 fine.

The exact number of notices and the number of arrests was still being tallied yesterday, but Inspector Gary Davey, of Auckland City Police, said early yesterday there were up to 10 notices issued.


Far more warnings were issued, as police wanted to work with the public as the new laws were ushered in, he said.

Assistant Commissioner Grant Nicholls, speaking before the law change, said there was an expectation people might take time to adjust to the new rules and said enforcement would be carried out with "fairness and good judgment".

Infringement notices can also be issued against bar owners for having intoxicated patrons, but officers said there had been a good level of understanding.

Senior Sergeant Ross Barnaby said staff had been in and out of licensed premises throughout yesterday morning and found a high level of awareness, not only from the bars but patrons as well.

Some had questions for police about the changes, which hospitality industry chiefs have labelled the most significant in years. Mr Barnaby said some bars had the new rules prominently displayed inside as reminders for everyone.

New drinking rules - the changes include:

• Off-licences must close by 11pm.

• On-licences must close at 4am.

• Police officers will be able to issue alcohol infringement notices for a range of new offences, including breach of local alcohol bans, lending ID to an under-18-year-old, and presenting a fake ID ($250 per offence).

• Bars that serve intoxicated people, or allow them to remain on the premises while intoxicated, risk a fine of up to $10,000.

• Police throughout New Zealand will use an "alcohol assessment tool" to assess whether a person is merely under the influence of alcohol or "intoxicated" as defined in the act.

How to spot, and deal with a drunk

Speech Coordination Appearance Behaviour

S - Coherent, clear speech, normal tone/volume, may be talkative
C - Coordinated, balanced, standing without help or support
A - Tidy, clear eyes, alert
B - Sensible but may be more relaxed
Monitor and serve responsibly
S - May be overly talkative, opinionated and interrupt, may stumble over words, becoming loud; inappropriate language, jokes, comments
C - Slow-delayed reactions, swagger, occasional stagger or sway
A - Vacant or blank expression, alcohol on breath, may look untidy
B - Overly friendly or withdrawn, inappropriate or risky actions, argumentative, annoying, fading attention, increased consumption
S - Slurring, difficulty forming words, loud, repetitive, loses train of thought, nonsensical, unintelligible
C - Spills drink, stumbles, trips, walks into objects, can't stand unaided or still straight
A - Galzed/bloodshot eyes, unable to focus, tired, asleep, disheveled
B - Seriously inappropriate actions, language; aggressive, rude, belligerent, obnoxious behavior affecting others
Deny and remove