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NSW: Big fines and dumped alcohol for NYE drunks: police

13 Dec 2008 8:05 PM

SYDNEY, Dec 13 AAP - Police admit new laws including fines of up to $2,200 to curb alcohol-fuelled violence on New Year's Eve, might antagonise drunken louts.

Revellers ringing in the New Year in Sydney risk having their alcohol poured out and copping massive fines if they resist.

NSW Premier Nathan Rees confirmed that the legislation was passed two weeks ago to stop "drunken rats" from harassing law-abiding citizens in Sydney's CBD.

Police and council rangers will have the authority to pour out alcohol from any open container and anyone resisting a police directive may be fined up to $2,200 for obstruction.

"If we have to make commonsense adjustments, we will, but the thrust of what we're about is diminishing alcohol-related violence," Mr Rees told reporters in Sydney.

For the first time, the alcohol exclusion zones for NYE will be extended to George Street, from the harbour foreshore to the vicinity of the Town Hall.

The main thoroughfare is turned into a massive pedestrian zone for people leaving the city after the 9pm and midnight fireworks displays.

NSW Police assistant commissioner Catherine Burn said their was an increase in alcohol-fuelled assaults last NYE in George Street over the previous year.

Pedestrians had used the thoroughfare as a place to congregate and consume alcohol, she said, which led to fights and the harassment of innocent bystanders.

Anyone caught opening or consuming alcohol, or even just holding an open alcohol container, will have the contents tipped out.

"The person who has refused to hand over the alcohol, has refused to comply, then police can then take action and charge the person with obstruction," Ms Burn said.

"I would hope we would not have to get to that point."

She said the new laws could aggravate matters if police got between a drunkard and drink.

"There might be a situation where if we did confiscate alcohol it might antagonise the situation. Now we have to handle that appropriately."

The new powers do not allow people to be searched and do not apply to unopened alcohol containers.

Signs will be posted in alcohol-free zones.