criminal law


March 17, 2019



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“Ignorantia juris non-excusat” is a well-known legal term connoting “ignorance of the law excuses no one”. Foreign expatriates residing or visiting UAE should be aware of the rules and regulations of the country to avoid adverse consequences. UAE is a global destination, blending traditional and modern culture with ease, attracting millions of tourists around the world every year.

In this article, the Criminal Lawyers of Dubai will set out some guidelines which may help you in understanding the laws of this country, so that you can avoid an unpleasant stay in this beautiful country.

  1. Avoid Drinking Publicly

UAE Criminal Law, which is the Federal Decree-Law Number 31 of 2021 On the Issuance of the Crimes and Penalties Law prohibits the consumption of alcohol in a public place. Article 363/3 of the UAE Criminal Law reads as follows: 

“Any person who drinks alcoholic beverages in a public place or in other than the locations authorised according to applicable legislation, or who is found in a state of intoxication in a public place, or who causes trouble or annoyance to a third party, or causes a public disturbance, while in a state of intoxication, shall be liable to a jail sentence for a period not exceeding six (6) months and a fine not exceeding AED one hundred thousand (100,000) or either one of these two penalties.”

However, there is no punishment for drinking alcohol in locations where it is authorised to drink, such as restaurants and bars, etc. However, it should be noted that each Emirate has a right to regulate the use, circulation and possession of alcohol and therefore if an Emirate has banned the consumption of alcohol in the Emirate, this prohibition will apply in that Emirate.

  1. Say NO to Drink and Drive

Federal Law Number 21 of 1995 ConcerningTraffic prohibits and penalizes any driver who is driving under the influence of alcohol, or narcotic drugs. 

Article 10 of the Traffic Law reads as follows: "The driver, while driving any vehicle on the road should abide by the following: abstain from driving the vehicle while under the effect of wine, or an alcoholic or narcotic substance or the like." The punishment under this law is separate from the punishment one may face under Criminal Law for possessing liquor or narcotic drugs. 

  1. Don't Get Lured on Duty-Free

Tourists may only carry or purchase specific litres of alcohol from Dubai Duty-Free, and the purchaser must be above the age of 18 years. 

  1. Laws About Drugs

The UAE has issued new laws regarding narcotics and psychotropic substances. This law is called the Federal Decree-Law No. 30 of 2021 On Combating Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances. According to Articles 10 and 11 of this law, it is prohibited to possess, acquire, transfer, import, export, produce, manufacture or bring narcotics and psychotropic substances, as mentioned in the relevant schedules, in the UAE. It should be noted that cannabis, including marijuana, is considered a narcotic and a psychotropic substance under this law.

  1. Alcohol Consumption under 21 years 

Alcohol consumption is not allowed for a person under the age of 21 years and any person who offers or sells alcohol to such a person will be liable to imprisonment and/or fines not exceeding AED 100,000. The court may order the deportation of the perpetrator. 

However, if the perpetrator has verified the age of the person to whom the alcohol is offered or sold, then there would not be any criminal action. 

Article 363/4 of the UAE Criminal Law, which sets out this position is set out below.

“4 - Any person who offers alcoholic beverages to a person under the age of twenty-one (21) years or who incites such drinking or who purchases the same for the purpose of providing them to the said person, shall be liable to a jail sentence for a period not exceeding one (1) year and a fine not exceeding AED one hundred thousand (100,000) or either one of these two penalties. There is no crime if any of the acts are committed when the perpetrator verifies that the age of the person for whom the alcoholic beverages are offered or sold, is not less than twenty-one years, based on his passport or any other official document. In all cases, a judgment shall be issued for the confiscation of the alcoholic beverages, the seized proceeds obtained, and the equipment, materials, and means used in their production or transfer, in addition to the closure of the place or location in which the crime is committed, and the court may expel the foreigner from the State.

Related Links

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  • Rules and Regulations Followed in Criminal Cases
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    hi... if someone is in police custody of drink and drive case... what can I do and how to he comes outside..pls help me
    The UAE has zero tolerance when it comes to drunk driving matters. The minimum punishment imposed would be that of fine and it could also lead to an imprisonment term. You should take legal representation for the said person and the lawyer will be able to submit a bail request for the person to be released from custody.

    If you wish to have a legal consultation with one of our lawyers, please feel free to contact me and I would be happy to assist you.   Dr. Hassan Elhais
    I have. One. Friends. He go to bar and drunk after he came out side and flight some. One. I just want. Know what is. The punishment for him
    We are a leading law firm in the region. With a wide area of expertise and ground connections, we're adept at providing bespoke legal advice pertaining to your enquiry.

    We would like to handle your matter in the following stages:

    1. Stage 1: We will visit the Prosecution to conduct a check on the details of the case against your friend, particularly the status and the relevant information - which we may need to action your request. Our Professional Fees for this preliminary exercise will be AED3,150/- including VAT.

    2. Stage 2: Once we have the aforesaid information, we will revert to you with our engagement terms to handle your friend's matter.

    Please revert to us with your confirmation and your friend's Emirates ID so that we can proceed. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. Look forward to hearing from you.   Dr. Hassan Elhais

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