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United Arab Emirates > Legal Developments > Law firm and leading lawyer rankings

Editorial

Drinking alcohol in UAE: How to avoid jail time?

Foreign expatriates residing or visiting UAE must always be aware of the rules and regulations of the country in order to avoid detention. 

Ignorantia Juris non-excusat is a well-known legal term connoting ignorance of law excuses no one which is affirmed worldwide. Foreign expatriates residing or visiting UAE must always be aware of the rules and regulations of the country in order to avoid detention. UAE is a mixed bag of traditional and modern culture which attracts numerous tourist around the world every year. UAE's nightlife is a dream for tourists but doesn't let it become a nightmare. Consequently, Criminal Lawyers of Dubai will guide you through this article several ways through which you can avoid an unpleasant stay in this beautiful country.

  1. Avoid Drinking Publicly
    UAE Criminal Law, Federal Law Number 3 of 1987 under Article 313 prohibits the consumption of alcohol in public place; the law reads as follows: "Shall be sentenced to detention for a term not exceeding one month or to a fine not excess of two thousand dirhams, whoever:
    • States openly in a public place that he consumes food or drinks or any other thing that breaks fast during Ramadan period.
    • Compels, instigates or assists in making such openly statement the public place used for this purpose may be ordered to close down for a period not exceeding one month."
    However, there are several restaurants and bars where an individual is allowed to drink. Also, there are places where one can buy liquor with a valid license. Thus, it is pertinent to possess a valid liquor license in the country as that way you can purchase liquor and if found drunk can avoid detention.

  2. Say NO to Drink and Drive
    Federal Law Number 21 of 1995 regarding Traffic prohibits and penalizes any driver driving under the influence of alcohol, or narcotic drugs which is reflected from Article 10 of the said law reads as follows: "The driver of any vehicle shall refrain himself from driving if under the influence of wine, liquor or any other narcotic substances." The punishment under this law is separate from the punishment one may face under the Criminal Law for possessing liquor or narcotic drugs. The offender may attract imprisonment as well as fine for violation of this law. The fine may vary from AED 5,000 to AED 20,000 with a maximum imprisonment of 6 months.

  3. Don't get lured on Duty-Free
    Tourist may only carry or purchase 4 litres of alcohol from Dubai Duty-Free, and the purchaser must be above the age of 18 years.

  4. Do't Drink and Work
    Consuming liquor at the workplace is prohibited under UAE law and allows the employer to terminate you without prior notice in accordance with Article 12 of Federal Law Number 8 of 1980.

  5. Liquor License
    Alcohol rules in the Emirate of Dubai and Abu Dhabi are still reposed as compared to other Emirates by allowing alcohol in nightclubs and restaurants. It is pertinent to hold a license issued by the Ministry of Interior for buying and drinking alcohol in the country.
    License for liquor is only issued for non-Muslims having residency in UAE. UAE Laws imposes severe penalties for Muslims who are found inebriated state. A Non-Muslim resident can apply for a Liquor license if he or she is above the age of 21 years with a valid residency visa along with the employment contract.