Friday, June 17, 2011

Your A to Z guide for Alcohol Drinking Laws (Mututho) in Kenya

It's Friday again. Young ladies leaving work early to pass by the salon for a touch up. Young men going through their bank balance, MPESA balance and wallet to confirm their capacity for damage. Married men leaving their calculators tucked deeply under their work files in the office; and everybody in between getting ready to party. As you plan to paint tonight red, here's an A to Z guide of how to stay on the right side of the law - especially in light of the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act, 2010 a.k.a. Mututho Law.



A - Alcohol


So that we know what we're dealing with, take a look at how the Act defines alcohol. It includes any alcoholic drink with at least 0.5% alcoholic content except for methylated spirit or denatured alcohol (which kinda provides a loophole because Kenyan's have been known to take alcohol unfit for human consumption). The Act regulates production, sale and consumption of alcohol.


UPDATE:Read recently that the law regarding proximity to schools has been relaxed


B - Bars that are illegal


Don't wanna get caught up in an illegal bar raid, then avoid bars that are closer than 300 metres from a primary or secondary school, or those that do not have clean and adequate toilets.


C - Clubbing


Night clubs are allowed to sell alcohol from 7:00 PM to 3:00 AM Monday to Friday. Clubs that want to sell from 5:00PM on weekdays and 2:00 PM on weekends need to also get a bar license. That means that your night ends at 3:00 AM, any minute after that you're on your own.


D - Drunk and Disorderly


If you're behaving drunk and disorderly,  violent, or quarrelsome, the bar can eject you by force. If charged and convicted in court for being drunk and disorderly in public you face a fine of Sh. 500


E - Excessive Consumption


If the bar owner thinks you're intoxicated, he can refuse to sell to you because it is an offence. Also if you encourage someone who is already intoxicated to consume alcohol this is also an offence.


F - Food with your Alcohol


Restaurants can sell alcohol to you at any time as long as you're consuming it together with food.


G - Government


Lots of people can enforce this Act including provincial administration (DOs, DCs, Chiefs), NACADA officers, policemen (by virtue of enforcing all laws) and even City Council Askari (if the Minister so recommends - don't think he has though)


H - Hours of Drinking


The safest times to be drinking are between 5:00PM and 8:30PM though depending on which license the alcohol seller has these hours can be extended. Places like the Armed Forces canteen (AFCO) are not even regulated by the act


I - Injunctions against the Law


There have been a couple of injunctions against implementation of the Act with the most recent filed by EABL just before Madaraka day. Contrary to some interpretations this injunction did not suspend the law but only sections of it - those dealing with warnings comprising 30% of the label. So if you're planning to use this injunction to defend yourself - watch out!


J - Jail Time and Fines


Fines start at around Sh. 500 for being drunk and disorderly to upto Sh.10,000,000 for selling spiked drinks. Longest jail term I've seen is three years.


K- Keeping it Local


The Act legalises chang'aa but with some qualifications: it must be hygienically bottled and it cannot be sold in quantities of less than 250ml. Other standards are supposed to be developed by NACADA so that chang'aa joins the ranks of waragi and konyagi


L - Licensing


Each district has a District Alcoholic Drinks Regulation Committee that is tasked with assigning licenses and make inspections.


M - Madeni za pombe


For those who like to drink on credit, you'd be happy to know that no debt is recoverable in respect of sale of alcohol unless it was in a hotel where the debtor was a lodger or restaurant where served together with a meal.

N - Nursing the Hangover


:) The Act makes no mention of this, but try boiled eggs, bananas, lots of water and fruit juice. Avoid fatty foods (no passing by Kenchic on your way home!), and caffeinated drinks (tea, coffee, redbull, coke)


O - Open Drinks


Be careful not to accept a drink not opened in your presence or imbibe a drink that was left open and unattended. Several cases exist where beautiful women will drug unwitting male patrons in order to easily steal from them - they are supported many times by cab drivers so know your cabbie. Ladies have to be even more careful not to be drugged.


P - Police Powers


As usual our boys in blue will be on the prowl to shake down anyone unlucky enough to be on the wrong side of the law and where they refuse to, let them cool their heels in the slammer. Getting jailed on a Friday night is the worst possible night, as the earliest you can be taken to court is Monday morning.


Q - Quitting while Ahead


Know your limits, don't drink and drive and if you start drooping in the club it's time to go home.


R - Repeal of old laws


The old liquor licensing act and chang'aa prohibition act have been repealed but not every cop knows that.


S - Staying at Home


Since introduction of the law, this has become a popular way to have your drink without restriction. If you however think that you can also sell liquor from your house without restriction you'd be mistaken. As long as you're selling alcohol the Act regulates you.


T - Toys that Imitate Alcohol


Goes without saying that these are illegal, we can't let the young ones get hooked in through toys.


U - Underage Drinking


Age of drinking is 18 years, which is good because this is also the age of voting. You can vote, you can drink. Sell to someone under 18 and you face a Sh.150,000 fine or 1 year in jail.


V - Videos showing Alcohol Drinking and Social Success


This probably defines 90% of the local music videos. A guy goes to a club, gets a drink and soon after has a bunch of scantily dressed women gyrating to his beats and showing him love. Try and use this to promote a drink (or drinking - as in the case of a bar/club) and you can be in serious trouble.


W - Wines and Spirits.


A huge ignorance exists about what wines and spirits can/cannot do. First of all understand that these usually get off-licence licenses, which means that the alcohol is not consumed where it is bought (you take it home or somewhere else). Under this license, they can only sell alcohol between 5:00PM and 8:30PM


X - eXcessive Alcohol Consumption is Harmful to your Health


That's one of the warning messages that should be on your drink, the others are:


  • Excessive alcohol consumption can cause liver cirrhosis;
  • Excessive alcohol consumption impairs your judgment; do not drive or operate machinery;
  • Not for sale to persons under the age of 18 years.
Y - YouTube, Twitter, Facebook


Think you can promote your drink (in contravention on the restrictions on advertising) on the internet or on social media? Think again. Act makes sure no one will try this by imposing a Sh.3,000,000 fine or 3 years in jail or both for anyone who tries this.


Z - Zero Percentage Alcohol Drinks


Remember you can also have fun with your family and/or friends even when drinking non-alcoholic drinks. Alvaro, Novida, Sodas, Red Bull, water, and even tea are all possible alternatives. Plus there are non-alcoholic wines that exist to ensure you continue looking sophisticated and posh with a wine glass (as opposed to a fanta orange bottle) :)


Have a happy Friday all, and if you're a young lady planning to go drinking this post is a good read!

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