Intoxication and same day liquor deliveries: Requirements for off-premises requests

It is an offence under the Liquor Control Reform Act 1998 (the Act) for a person to knowingly deliver an online liquor order (or any other type of off-premises request) if:

  1. the recipient is intoxicated, or
  2. there is a substantial risk that the recipient is intoxicated.

An off-premises request for the supply of liquor is one that is placed via mail, telephone, fax, internet or other electronic communication.

Licensees must also let their delivery persons know in writing that a liquor order for same-day delivery must not be left unattended. Failure to provide written notice is an offence under the Act.

Intoxication Guidelines

The Act provides that “a person is in a state of intoxication if his or her speech, balance, coordination or behaviour is noticeably affected and there are reasonable grounds for believing that this is the result of the consumption of liquor”.

Liquor Control Victoria has issued Intoxication Guidelines under section 3AB of the Act to help licensees and their employees decide whether a person is intoxicated.

Intoxication guidelines
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Intoxication and ‘substantial risk’ of intoxication

Under the Intoxication Guidelines, a person may be intoxicated if they exhibit one or more of the intoxication signs, and these signs are exhibited because of the consumption of alcohol.

When delivering liquor orders placed by an off-premises request, delivery persons usually have only short interactions with the customer accepting the delivery, which can make it difficult to be certain that the customer is showing signs of intoxication. Delivery persons should take a cautious and prudent approach to the assessment of whether a recipient is or might be intoxicated.

How to decide whether to refuse delivery of a liquor order

If you are delivering an online liquor order (or another type of off-premises order), you should consider whether the customer is showing signs of intoxication at the time of receiving the order. For example, you can consider whether the customer is:

  • loud and boisterous
  • swaying or rambling when speaking
  • using offensive language
  • unwilling to comply with ID verification requirements, or
  • having difficulty signing for the delivery.

Please refer to the Intoxication Guidelines above for further examples of the signs of intoxication.

You should also consider whether the signs exhibited by the customer are a result of the consumption of liquor. This may include considering:

  • whether the customer smells of alcohol
  • any comments made by the customer indicating their current level of intoxication
  • the context of the delivery (for example, where there appears to be a party which could indicate that the customer was consuming alcohol prior to accepting delivery of the order).

You do not need to be certain the customer is in fact intoxicated to refuse delivery. Rather, if it is likely that a customer is intoxicated because, for example, they are showing signs of intoxication, you should refuse delivery of the order.

If you deliver liquor to a customer who is intoxicated, or is likely to be intoxicated, you may be in breach of the Act and liable for a maximum penalty of 120 penalty units.

Licensees should provide instructions to delivery persons on what steps to take if delivery of a liquor order cannot be completed because the customer is intoxicated or there is a substantial risk that the customer is intoxicated. This should include information about where the order should be returned to, and the circumstances in which a refund may be issued to the customer.

Unattended same day liquor delivery

Licensees must also comply with new written notice requirements relating to unattended same day online liquor deliveries (or any other type of off-premises order). A same day delivery is when orders are delivered on the same day the order is placed.

A licensee must advise their delivery persons in writing that, for any same day liquor delivery, the order must not be left unattended. The order must be delivered to a person.
Licensees who fail to provide this written notice are in breach of the Act, which provides for a maximum penalty of 60 penalty units.

Failed packaged liquor deliveries

Licensees must now keep a record when a delivery person refuses to deliver packed liquor for an off-premises request due to certain circumstances. Find out what you need to do when there is a failed liquor delivery.