Drinking banning orders

Drinking banning orders (DBOs) are intended to tackle alcohol-related criminal or disorderly behaviour and to protect others from such behaviour.

Alcohol misuse can be associated with antisocial and disorderly behaviour, and is often a strong contributory factor in a wide range of offences, including:

  • public order offences (often antisocial in nature, these can involve disorderly groups of people; rowdy, threatening and abusive behaviour; and urinating in public)
  • criminal damage
  • minor and serious assaults
  • violent offences
  • traffic offences

DBOs are not suitable for criminal or disorderly behaviour that’s not alcohol-related.

How DBOs work

DBOs are civil orders, similar to antisocial behaviour orders, which can last from two months to two years. They are available through the provisions of the Violent Crime Reduction Act 2006.

They have been available on application throughout England and Wales since 31 August 2009, and are currently available on conviction in 50 local justice areas. You can find out more about local justice areas at legislation.gov.uk

Key aspects

A DBO can be made against a person from the age of 16, if they engage in criminal or disorderly conduct while under the influence of alcohol and the court considers it necessary to protect the public from their behaviour.

The police (including British Transport Police) and local authorities in England and Wales can apply to the courts for a DBO to be made. DBOs can also be granted on conviction of an alcohol-related offence in specified local justice areas.

Offenders who breach a DBO will be liable to a fine of up to £2,500 (level 4). There is no custodial penalty for breach of a DBO.

The Violent Crime Reduction Act also enables courts to offer an approved course to those subject to a DBO, as a means to address their behaviour. This is on a voluntary basis. These courses focus on educating people about the serious social and health implications of heavy alcohol consumption. Successful completion of the course may lead to a reduction in the length of the order.

A DBO may impose any prohibition on a person that the court considers necessary to protect others from alcohol-related crime, or disorderly conduct committed while they were under the influence of alcohol. The prohibitions must include whatever the court thinks is necessary with regard to that person entering premises that sell alcohol. This could include exclusion from:

  • purchasing alcohol
  • consuming alcohol or being in possession of alcohol in public
  • individual or sets of licensed premises
  • all licensed premises in a geographically defined area

When DBOs may not be appropriate

DBOs may not be appropriate:

  • if a ban of more than two years is needed
  • if the disorder is related to attendance at football matches
  • if the individual is subject to domestic violence or non-molestation proceedings
  • for vulnerable individuals such as those who are alcohol or drug dependent, or who have mental health problems
  • for people who were only under the influence of drugs and not alcohol

Guidance on drinking banning orders on application and conviction

Please note that any changes made to local justice areas have no effect on the jurisdiction of the DBO pilot. Banning orders may still only be made by those courts within the geographical boundary of the original 50 licensing justice areas that are part of the pilot.

The Guidance on drinking banning orders on application and conviction provides a single point of reference on DBOs for the police, local authorities, magistrates and approved course providers. It provides comprehensive information on seeking, making and enforcing a DBO, as well as covering matters relating to the recipient’s attendance of an approved course.

A copy of the Magistrates’ Courts (Drinking Banning Order) Rules 2009 can download or viewed at Annex E of the DBO guidance. Additional information on prohibitions is available on pages 9-11.

You can download an application form for a drinking banning order and an application form for a interim drinking banning order.

You can read the full text of the legislation that introduced drinking banning orders on the Office of Public Sector Information website.

The civil procedure rules on seeking DBOs and the criminal procedure rules for DBOs on conviction can be accessed on the Ministry of Justice website.

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