Alleged grog running cabbie may lose car; passenger who bought grog fined $120.

UPDATE 1:30 May 28: Police have now disclosed that the taxi’s passenger, described as a 34 year old female, was issued with a liquor infringement notice, an on-the-spot fine. That means the owner and purchaser of the liquor was fined $100 plus $20 victim levy under Section 75(1)(c) of the NT Liquor Act targeting anyone who “consumes, sells, supplies or otherwise disposes of liquor in a general restricted area.”

Meanwhile, forfeiture of the car may be part of the penalty the driver is facing.

 

UPDATE 10:10 May 24: Police are now seeking legal advice about the responsibilities of taxi drivers carrying passengers who have alcohol in their possession.

The Alice Springs News Online this morning put the following question to Police Commissioner John McRoberts: “If – say – a German tourist and his wife took a taxi, bought a bottle of champagne in a bottle shop, and then went to Anzac Hill to watch the sunset over a glass of bubbly, would the taxi driver be obliged to stop them from doing so?

“What would he be required to do? What would the police do to him if he did not act as the police requires?

Bear in mind that Alice Springs is also a prescribed town where drinking in public is prohibited.”

A spokesperson for the Commissioner replied: “The Police are currently seeking legal advice. Once there is a clearer position, I can let all the enquiring media know.”

Police will be seeking the forfeiture of a taxi whose driver is alleged to have taken alcohol to a “prescribed area” in Alice Springs.

They have seized the taxi under the Commonwealth Emergency Response Legislation and charged the cabbie.

“The 50 year-old man was followed by police after his taxi was observed at a drive-through bottle shop just after 2pm yesterday,” says Superintendent Catherine Bennett.

“The whole community must take responsibility for minimising harm done in the town.
“Police will allege the driver of the taxi was aware the town camp was a dry area and chose to ignore the large sign at the entrance. ”

 

UPDATE: Samih Habib Bitar, director of Alice Springs Taxis and former alderman (pictured right), says all drivers know that it is illegal for grog to be taken into town camps. He says sometimes people try to hide grog amongst their groceries. “It’s up to the driver to check,” he says, “to make sure their boot is clean. The company tells everyone to check.”

On the possible penalty for a breach, he says “we all must pay for our mistakes” and hopes everyone “learns a lesson” .

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8 Comments (starting with the most recent)

NB: If you want to reply to a previous comment, start your comment with this notation: @n where n is the number of the comment you want to reply to.
  1. Bobby
    Posted May 26, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    Great, blaming the taxi driver when there were passengers in the car. The passengers [allegedly – ED] bought the grog, they were adults and fully responsible for their actions. Why blame the taxi driver who is not drunk, making money for living.
    Just blame the taxi driver because he has no voice. Scared to touch the Aboriginal passenger as they may cause a riot, fight, and need extra police to control the situation if it turns worse. So leave the passenger who done the crime, and charge the driver who aided the crime.
    Grow up, first catch the criminals then may be the accomplice.

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  2. David Chewings
    Posted May 25, 2012 at 9:25 am

    I know of the worst cases of abuse by cabbies better than anyone currently engaged in this debate and I am of the firm opinion that the Commissioner is going over the top in his treatment of the Alice taxi industry.

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  3. Hal Duell
    Posted May 25, 2012 at 7:19 am

    Well said Bronwyn Dealdi. The cabbie is the meat in the sandwich here, and if the reports are true, he may lose his job, his cab (and who will pay for that) and his livelihood. If he didn’t buy the grog himself and sell it on at a profit, wasn’t he just taking some customers home with their legally purchased alcohol?
    And what is with this dry town camp rule anyway? Aren’t we (1) trying to integrate those areas into Alice proper and (2) trying to reduce public drinking? After all we did make Alice a “dry town”, so it’s hardly surprising that those wanting a drink seek to do so within their own homes. And if the argument is made that the camps are not home to every visitor, is it time to consider making them gated communities.
    Can you imagine the howls if that happens, or if, say, the Old Eastside were declared dry, or if the bottle shop on the Northside were to close? There’s far too much displacement going on. Deny people the right to drink at home, whether that’s a remote community or a town camp, and they do it sitting on a park bench or along the railway corridor.
    Which isn’t to say we don’t need to turn down the tap. We do. But alcohol is a legal product, and when people buy it, they expect to drink it, not see it poured out onto the ground.
    As well as displacement, there is some serious denial going on.

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  4. Ian Sharp
    Posted May 24, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    Hard to have sympathy for taxi drivers who pick Aboriginal people in Wills Tce / Todd Mall and drive 100m to the bottle shop. Hard to have sympathy for taxi drivers who then drive the people and the grog into Town Camps that are clearly marked as dry.
    Easy to have sympathy for the ambos and cops who have to go into those same Town Camps late at night to pick up the pieces, and are sometimes put at risk in doing so.

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  5. Bronwyn Dealdi
    Posted May 24, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    I have some sympathy for the taxi driver, what are the chances that if he said no to the people with grog getting into the taxi that he would be abused if not assaulted. Should taxi drivers be responsible for policing the no grog rule?
    Another question, why can’t people in town camps drink alcohol in the privacy of their own home, I think it is discriminatory in banning the private use of alcohol.
    Yes, I know the possible responses to this question and I say its all about personal responsibility for your own actions. This cannot be learnt if we keep acting like a “nanny” state.

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  6. Jason Newman
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 12:42 pm

    David, two very good points well made!

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  7. David Chewings
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Erwin, I hope you will allow me the privilege of another comment on this matter.
    I have just read the ABC report which quotes the Police Commissioner as saying: “This is a very serious matter.”
    No it is not, Commissioner.
    The recent reports of alleged rape, homicide and escapes from custody in Centralia are very serious matters indeed and you only trivialise your esteemed position by what you have said about the cabbie’s alleged offence.
    Up in Darwin it seems that the murder and associated mayhem is not on the improve.
    And you, Dear Commissioner, tell us all to have faith.

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  8. David Chewings
    Posted May 23, 2012 at 9:15 am

    My thoughts go out to the cabbie concerned and those people suffering under the NTER umbrella and the beefed up so-called Stronger Futures proposals introduced into Federal Parliament last November.
    They have already passed the House of Reps.
    Of great concern to me and other do-gooders is that there will be no scrutiny by the newly formed parliamentary committee on human rights.
    Jenny Macklin could easily correct this.

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