Every parent has cracked open a bottle of Merlot after a – let’s just call it difficult – Thursday and helped themselves to a well-earned glass.
Which is perfectly okay, of course – other wise a lot of family-friendly pubs would be out of business.
But there is a point at which you could get in rather a lot of trouble for tipping back one too many in front of your little ones, according to a century-old law.
Under the Licensing Act 1902, it’s illegal to be drunk in charge of a child in a public place.
In fact, if you’re found drunk on any highway or other public place or on any licensed premises – whether in a building or not – whilst supervising a child under seven, you could receive a fine or up to a month of imprisonment.
Solicitor advocate Joy Merriam told The Sun that while there’s no definitive test to see how drunk a parent or guardian is, it’s all about safeguarding kids and drinking responsibly.
“The threshold would be whether the child was compromised,” she said.
“If you’re having lunch with a couple of glasses of wine, you probably wouldn’t be considered drunk in charge of a child.
“If you’re obviously impaired, if it’s a young child who needs you to be alert and capable of safeguarding them, that would be the real test.”
Think: If you’re starting to feel pretty woozy, are you alert enough to stop them climbing on something dangerous, or running in front of a car?
But while parents are arrested on suspicion relatively often or perhaps social services alerted, she said that full-on prosecutions were rare:
“It obviously is quite an old law,” she explained. “It tends to be used more these days in child protection and child care law.”
So perhaps you’re unlikely to get in trouble with the law for knocking back a few glasses of wine – but it’s an important reminder to keep an eye on yourself as well as on your kids.
For more information on drinking alcohol around children, check out the Drinkaware website.
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