In places as affluent and lively as Singapore, it’s quite hard to imagine life without a couple of drinks, right? Well, that is a fact. However, drinking in Singapore is well regulated as there are rules governing such activity, whether at home or in public.
In this guide, we will take a look at the laws that concern drinking in Singapore. If you have a couple of questions in mind, be sure to read until the end to see if we’ve covered everything.
- Drinking in Singapore: What You Need to Know
- Legal Age for Drinking
- Drinking in Clubs
- Proving your Age
- Where and When Can You Drink in Public Places?
- Are there time restrictions on drinking at home?
- Can I buy food products containing alcohol after 10.30pm?
- What is the Offense for Drink-Driving in Singapore?
- How is the Sentence for Drink-Drivers Decided?
- Nature and degree of actual/potential harm resulting from the offense
Drinking in Singapore: What You Need to Know
Alcohol consumption, whether at home or in public, is becoming more common in today’s society. A drink is classified as alcoholic if it contains more than 0.5 percent alcohol by mass or volume, according to the Customs Act.
It’s a good idea to be aware of the legal limits regarding the legal drinking age, where and when you can drink alcohol, and driving after drinking.
Legal Age for Drinking
In Singapore, the legal drinking age is 18 years old. This means that only individuals aged 18 and above will be permitted to purchase and/or consume alcoholic beverages in Singaporean establishments licensed to sell alcohol (such as restaurants and supermarkets).
This is because it is prohibited for licensed liquor retailers to sell or allow anyone under the age of 18 to consume alcohol on their licensed premises. Sellers who do so may be charged with an offense under Regulation 37 of the Customs (Liquors Licensing) Regulations and face a fine of up to S$5,000 if convicted.
However, there is no rule that penalizes those who use alcohol when under the age of 21.
Drinking in Clubs
There are no age restrictions when entering a club. Clubs have their own laws regarding the minimum age for entry, which can range from 18 to 23 years old.
However, because clubs sell alcohol and enable their patrons to consume it on their premises, the minimum age to enter a club is 18 or older.
Before going, make sure to check each club’s minimum age requirements.
Proving your Age
To verify one’s age in Singapore, a Singaporean citizen must present any of the following documents:
- Identification card (NRIC);
- driver’s license; or
If you are a foreigner, some establishments may be more stringent in terms of identification before allowing you to purchase alcohol or access clubs.
To be safe, use any of the following methods to prove your age:
- A passport, or
- a foreign identification card is required.
Note: Possession of a fake ID is a forgery offense under Penal Code Section 474. A person convicted of this forgery offense faces up to ten years in prison, a fine, or both.
Where and When Can You Drink in Public Places?
A public place is defined as a location to which the general public has free access, even if such access is subject to a fee or is subject to restrictions from time to time. Restaurants and taverns are not included in this category, which includes void decks, road decks, and parks.
The Liquor (Supply and Use) Act forbids the consumption of alcoholic beverages in such public locations, as well as the sale of alcoholic beverages from retail outlets between 10.30 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Certain neighborhoods, such as Little India and Geylang Serai, are designated as Liquor Control Zones and are further restricted.
Individuals who are discovered drinking alcohol in these places will face penalties that increase by up to 1.5 times. If you are determined to be intoxicated and incapable of caring for yourself, you might face a S$1,000 fine and/or a one-month jail sentence.
Are there time restrictions on drinking at home?
The Liquor (Supply and Consumption) Act does not control drinking at home. The timing is not governed by any laws. You can consume alcohol at any time of day or night in the quiet of your own house.
Can I buy food products containing alcohol after 10.30pm?
After 10.30 p.m. on January 18, 2019, food products containing more than 0.5 percent alcohol can be purchased. Foods like rum and raisin ice cream, liquor-infused chocolate, and cooking wine are examples of such items.
In contrast to alcoholic beverages, such food products are free from liquor licensing regulations because they are unlikely to lead to alcohol abuse.
Driving under the influence of alcohol is a criminal offense under Section 67 of the Road Traffic Act.
You will be charged with this offense if you:
- are unfit to drive while under the influence of alcohol to the point where you are unable to maintain adequate control of the vehicle; or
- exceed the prescribed alcohol limit
The legal alcohol limit is:
- Alcohol content of 35 micrograms per 100 millilitres of breath
- In 100 millilitres of blood, there is 80 milligrams of alcohol.
What is the Offense for Drink-Driving in Singapore?
The number of drink-driving cases and prison terms handed down in Singapore has skyrocketed. In 2011, there were 520 cases of drunk driving, with 14 people imprisoned. In 2016, there were 1,340 instances, with 187 receiving prison terms.
Maximum Penalties for Drink-Driving in Singapore
If you are convicted of drink-driving for the first time, you face a fine of S$2,000 to S$10,000 and/or up to one year in jail. Repeat offenders face fines ranging from S$5,000 to S$20,000, as well as up to two years in prison.
Offenders will also be barred from acquiring or retaining a driver’s license for at least two years (or at least 5 years for repeat offenders). Unless the court finds that there are compelling reasons to order a shorter period of disqualification (or no disqualification at all). If the offender has also been convicted of risky or dangerous driving, the period of disqualification may be extended even further.
Dangerous Driving: Defined
If a driver drives at a dangerous pace or in a dangerous way, he will be charged with an offense under Section 64(1) of the Road Traffic Act (RTA). Here are some examples of unsafe driving:
- Driving in the opposite direction of the flow of traffic
- Weaving our way in and out of traffic
- ignoring traffic signals
Note: Officers of the law have the authority to arrest dangerous drivers without a warrant.
Maximum Penalties for Dangerous Driving
The maximum penalties for drivers guilty of driving dangerously under section 64(1) of the RTA depend on the level of harm caused by the driver to any victims.
If there are extraordinary reasons to disqualify a driver, the court can award shorter disqualification terms (or choose not to disqualify the driver at all).
How is the Sentence for Drink-Drivers Decided?
The following two considerations will be considered by the court when determining the appropriate sentence for a driver convicted of drunk driving:
- The kind and extent of actual/potential harm caused by the offense
- The offender’s involvement in the crime
Did you notice how drinking and driving can easily become a case of double jeopardy? For your own good, it’s best to do only one thing but never both at the same time. The good news, however, is that buying a car in Singapore can be extremely expensive, so unless you’re a CEO or a business manager, it’s likely that you’ll end up taking a taxi or public transport on your way home.
Nature and degree of actual/potential harm resulting from the offense
The court will first consider the nature and extent of the injury caused by the offense. There are four types of harm:
- Slight: Slight or moderate property damage and/or slight physical injury characterized by no hospitalization or medical leave
- Moderate: Serious property damage and/or moderate personal injury characterised by hospitalization or medical leave, but no fractures or permanent injuries
- Serious: Serious personal injury usually involving fractures, including injuries that are permanent in nature and/or that necessitate significant surgical procedures
- Very Serious: Loss of limb, sight or hearing or life; or paralysis.
The culpability of the offender
The offender’s guilt will be assessed by the court, based on:
- The degree to which the offender’s blood alcohol level exceeds the permitted limit
- The manner in which the perpetrator drove
Low: Low alcohol level (35 – 54 microgrammes per 100ml of breath) and no evidence of dangerous driving behaviour
Medium: Moderate to high alcohol level (55 – 69 microgrammes per 100ml of breath) or dangerous driving behaviour
High: High alcohol level (>70 microgrammes per 100ml of breath) and dangerous driving behaviour
Drinking and driving has real and serious implications for you and those around you. It is usually better to err on the side of caution and plan ahead of time to avoid drinking and driving.
You can, for example, use valet services like iDrive or make alternate transportation arrangements. It is also a criminal offense under Section 68 of the RTA to be in command of a vehicle while intoxicated, even if you are not driving it.
It only takes one bad decision. Don’t drive if you’ve had a few drinks.
Drinking in Singapore is highly regulated, so if you’re one who can’t get through the week without a couple of drinks to unwind, then be sure to drink moderately. And where applicable, never drink and drive because there will only be dire consequences waiting for you.