Summer’s social calendar is already in swing with events from family barbecues to village fetes already lining up. However, while drinking when in charge of children at family events is common practice, it is also actually a breach of the law.
With even David Cameron leaving his eight-year-old daughter behind at a pub back in 2012, parents drinking while looking after their children is an everyday occurrence. But a century old law forbids the behaviour.
Being drunk while in charge of a child under the age of seven is illegal according to the 1902 licencing act. The law states that a fine or up to a month’s imprisonment would result if “any person is found drunk in any highway or other public place, or on any incensed premises, while having the charge of a child.”
“The threshold would be whether the child was compromised. If you’re having lunch with a couple of glasses of wine, you probably wouldn’t be considered drunk in charge of a child,” solicitor advocate Joy Merriam tells The Sun.
Being alert and capable of safeguarding your child are the key responsibilities that could be compromised by drinking irresponsibly. If parents are unable to look after their children and protect them from physical harm they could be committing the offence.
“There is no fixed amount under the current legislation, but it could certainly be argued that if you are an adult solely responsible for a child, it is better not to drink alcohol at all,” family lawyer Jo Shortland tells The Independent.
However, Ms Merriam adds that in cases of this type where parents are arrested on suspicion of the offence, prosecutions are infrequent and most commonly passed on to social services.
“Those responsible for children need to consider their own limitations and take a sensible approach to alcohol consumption,” family lawyer Deborah Heald tells The Independent.
The charity Drinkaware also released the following advice for parents: “Drink within the low risk alcohol unit guidelines of not regularly drinking more than 14 units per week for both men and women, and spreading them evenly over three days or more. This shows your child that adults can enjoy alcohol in moderation.”