$1,000 fine for drinking in public

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Man first to be charged under Liquor Control Act

A man who drank beer with his friends near his home has become the first person to be charged under the Liquor Control Act.

Tan Gak Hin (right), 52, was fined the maximum $1,000 yesterday after he pleaded guilty to a charge of consuming liquor in a public place during prohibited hours of 10.30pm and 7am.

This was the third time Tan had run afoul of the new liquor laws, which kicked in in April last year. He had been warned and given a composition fine for his earlier offences before being charged in court.

A district court heard that at about 11pm on Feb 22, Tan, whose occupation is not known, met four friends at a bench near Block 279, Bishan Street 24 - a five-minute walk from his home.

At about 2.25am in the morning, someone from the next block called the police to say there had been shouting in the area for the past 30 minutes.

A policeman found Tan and his friends sitting on the bench at about 2.40am. They were drinking beer and reeked of alcohol, reported The Straits Times Online.

"The (officer) then notified them of the infringement under (the) Liquor Control Act and advised them to dispose of the remaining cans of beer (and) they acknowledged and complied with the directions," the court heard from a police prosecutor.

In mitigation, Tan told the court through an interpreter that he did not break the law deliberately. He said he had been on his way home when he saw his friends drinking and they invited him to join them.

Tan, who did not have a lawyer, told District Judge Ronald Gwee that he will not repeat the offence.

The maximum punishment for consuming liquor in a public place during a prescribed no-public-drinking period is a fine of $1,000, on a first conviction. Repeat offenders face a fine of up to $2,000 and three months' jail.

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