Victoria Legal Aid

Police procedure if you're drunk

If the police arrest you for a public drunkenness offence they will take you into custody at a police station or sobering-up centre until you are sober enough to leave.

On 7 November 2022, it will no longer be a crime to be drunk in a public place. Between now and November 2022, if the police believe you are drunk in a public place, they may arrest you and take you into custody at a police station.

You will normally only be kept in custody until the police think you are sober enough to leave – usually around four hours.

While you are in custody, police must check on you regularly to make sure you’re okay and must call for medical help if they think you need it.

Sobering-up centres

If there is a sobering-up centre in the area, the police may release you into the custody of a representative of the centre. You will not be charged with an offence.

As well as providing a safe place for people to sober up, the centres help people with alcohol-related problems. They can refer you to health and other support services.

Being charged

It is up to the police officer to decide whether to charge you with a public drunkenness offence. If they decide not to charge you, you may get a caution or a fine instead.

If you have been charged by police for being drunk in a public place, speak to a lawyer to see whether the charge can be challenged.


If you have been charged with a public drunkenness offence you will usually be bailed and allowed to leave the police station, unless you have been charged with other, more serious, offences as well.

Usually, you will be given an 'undertaking of bail' form that says you promise to go to court on the date your case is listed.

Other support

Find out how you can other support for your rights when it comes to police powers.

Disclaimer: The material in this print-out relates to the law as it applies in the state of Victoria. It is intended as a general guide only. Readers should not act on the basis of any material in this print-out without getting legal advice about their own particular situations. Victoria Legal Aid disclaims any liability howsoever caused to any person in respect of any action taken in reliance on the contents of the publication.

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Reviewed 11 April 2022

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