When you put yourself behind the wheels, you are not only responsible for your safety, but also for the safety of people on the road. Your sense of responsibility transcends to both your and someone else’s life. Therefore, practicing caution while driving is of utmost importance.
Among the many aspects that should be avoided while driving is alcohol consumption. It goes without saying that driving under the influence of alcohol is never ideal and can lead to some devastating circumstances.
But to what extent can it legally affect you in Dubai? It is crucial that you keep yourself aware of all the ramifications you might have to face in this city for committing this act. This will not only encourage you to never drink and drive but you will also know how to act if this takes place in front of you.
How Does the Alcohol License Work in Dubai?
The government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has promulgated strict laws for sanctioning and regulating the purchase, possession, and drinking of alcohol in the country. This has been undertaken with the intent of discouraging drinking and driving.
In order to understand the penalties and legalities of drinking and driving, it is crucial to be aware of alcohol consumption rules and regulations and the associated alcohol license in Dubai.
Before November 7, 2020, you had to obtain an alcohol license for possessing and consuming alcohol in Dubai. However, with recent changes made in the law of alcohol consumption, this rule became redundant.
Consumption and possession of alcohol without an alcohol license by both tourists and residents is no longer a criminal offense, as long as it is done in private. However, you still have to be at least 21 years of age to legally consume alcohol in the UAE.
As for public venues such as private clubs and hotels are concerned, expatriates and tourists still need alcohol licenses. Drinking publicly or on the street is also prohibited. In other words, only licensed places that clearly state the right alcohol permits are the places where you can practice consuming alcohol.
In addition to that, if you are an expatriate, you can only buy alcohol through specialized stores. Furthermore, alcohol licenses are only given to non-Muslim citizens who have valid residence permits.
Obtaining an Alcohol License in Dubai
The earlier process of obtaining an alcohol license was extremely complicated and long-winded that needed several documents from your end. However, with the recent changes in the law, the process has become much simpler.
Previously, you had to show a No Objection Certificate (NOC) letter from your father, husband, or employer, a tenancy contract, and a salary certificate that proves that your earning is more than AED 3,000/month. But, this is no longer the case now.
If you are a non-Muslin resident citizen of the UAE, then all you need is your Emirates ID to get an alcohol license in Dubai. You have to visit an MMI or African+Eastern store and show the staff your ID to start the application process for the alcohol license.
You need to pay AED 270 for the license, which you will receive in a span of four weeks. To cover up the cost, you would receive a voucher book. The license remains valid for a year and even when it is in its renewal stage, you can still use it to purchase alcohol from stores.
However, if you are a tourist who is visiting Dubai, you can apply for an instant 30-day alcohol license which will make you eligible to buy alcohol from liquor stores in Dubai. All you need to do is visit a particular store and show them your Dubai entry stamp.
Moreover, if you are a tourist, you don’t have to pay any additional fee. Please note that this process is exclusively available for tourists. The residents can’t apply for it.
Factors affecting the Penalties for Alcohol and Other Drug-related Violations
Driving while being intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol or any illegal drug is a crime. This is because when you are intoxicated, you can’t drive properly since alcohol severely affects your ability, judgment, and coordination to drive.
The degree of your punishment would depend on a bunch of factors, primary among them being the follows:
- How long you have been drinking
- How much alcohol or illegal drug you have consumed
- The amount of food consumed before drinking
- The weight of your body
- Your gender
If you are Muslim, you might be subjected to a more serious penance.
Drinking and Driving Laws in Dubai
The drinking and driving laws of Dubai are stated in the UAE Traffic Laws No. 21 of 1995 by Federal Law No. 12/2007 “Concerning Traffic”.
As per Article No. 10.6 of this Traffic Law, you have to abstain from consuming any narcotic substance and alcohol if you plan to drive any vehicle. This is irrespective of whether consuming narcotic substances or alcohol is illegal or legal.
You can’t buy alcohol from a shop that doesn’t have a liquor license. You can’t get intoxicated in a public space. You can only carry a specific amount of alcohol (4 liters) in Dubai.
Penalties for Drinking and Driving in Dubai
According to Article No. 49 of the Traffic Law, drinking and driving can lead to a minimum fine of AED 25,000 and imprisonment.
In addition to this, your driving license might get suspended for anywhere between three months to two years. You might also be ineligible to obtain a new driving license once your present driving license gets expired for an extended time period.
If you ever caught yourself in any similar situation with alcohol or any narcotic substances or any other illegal drug, then you need to take proper legal advice from an established law firm. The laws and penalties can be extremely complex and doing the right thing at the right time is only possible with the help of legal professionals.
Despite the recent removal of heavy restrictions regarding alcohol consumption and possession in the country, alcohol laws remain still extremely strict in Dubai.
Whether you are a tourist or a regular citizen, you need to keep yourself updated with the latest rules and regulations concerning alcohol so that you don’t end up in prison. Not to mention, drinking and driving are illegal and can lead to some devastating punishment for you based on the severity of the condition.
So, if you want to consume alcohol in Dubai, please make sure you have a proper license and you are not doing it in a public space. Also, purchase alcohol from certified stores only and under no circumstances, drink and drive. Be safe and take responsibility and accountability for both yourself and the people on the road.