criminal law

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November 21, 2017

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According to the criminal law in Dubai it is illegal to consume alcohol without a validly issued permit. As per Law on Alcoholic Beverage Control issued in 1972, it is illegal to import, export, manufacture, acquire, drink, supply, sell or offer alcoholic drinks to persons not holding a valid alcohol license issued by the Licensing authority.

Any person found selling, buying or acquiring alcoholic drinks without a valid alcohol license shall be punished under Law on Alcoholic Beverage Control issued in 1972. UAE criminal law provides for punishment by imprisonment for 6 months, fine of five thousand dirhams or both and the court in all cases has the right to keep the possession of such materials with the court.

This applies to all any person without a valid alcohol license including Muslims and non-Muslims and minors irrespective of whether or not they are Expats or Emiratis.

While consumption of alcohol is completely prohibited for Muslims, the laws of Dubai do allow non-Muslims to consume alcohol after obtaining a license from the authorities. Liquor licenses are issued only to non-Muslim persons, Muslims are not issued alcohol licenses. Consumption of alcohol by Muslims is strictly prohibited and punishable as per law.

According to most of famous criminal lawyers in UAE, there are many cases where residents and tourists have been caught misusing or possessing drugs or other narcotic substances. The most commonly used drug is marijuana. Other drugs like cocaine, Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), hashish and MDMA (Ecstasy) are also prevalent.

Most of the cases handled by the criminal advocates in Dubai are on alcohol and drug consumption. Road rage, domestic violence, brawls, accidents etc are a few of the issues which Dubai criminal lawyers encounter on a very frequent basis. It is highly recommended that any person charged with issues related to alcohol or drug consumption they avail the services of a criminal lawyer as early as possible, as involvement of any criminal lawyer helps the client to deal with the criminal justice process, knowing, what will happen in advance and why. Less surprises in criminal cases means less stress on the client and his family. Knowing the special nature of the criminal cases, which has an impact on the client and his family and sometimes other relatives, big part of the lawyer's task would be to guide the client and to give the trust to hi family and other relatives that the legal process will be served by submitting all proper and legal arguments, which would help the investigator and prosecution to understand the case in simplest manner possible.


New update:

With the recent changes made by the issuance of Federal Decree Law No. (15) of 2020 (issued on 27 September 2020) amending certain Provisions of the Federal Law No. (3) of 1987 (UAE Penal Code), the consumption of alcohol has been legalized in the UAE, subject to the restrictions imposed by each emirate.

For the emirate of Dubai, the following rules apply:

  • The consumption of alcohol is no longer a criminal offence;
  • The legal age for consumption of alcohol is determined to be twenty-one (21);
  • Alcohol cannot be consumed in public places that are not licensed to sell alcohol, however, it can be consumed in private place as well as licenses restaurants and bars.

It is also critical to understand that the new changes in the right context, especially, that each emirate has its own rules, and if there is a local law of a given emirate that prohibits the consumption of alcohol then, the said local laws would apply instead of the Federal laws in such instances. For instance, the emirate of Sharjah, has local laws in place that have been in effect for decades which specifically criminalizes the consumption of alcohol in the said emirate and have not been revoked yet.

Reference : Federal Decree Law No. (15) of 2020 amending certain Provisions of the Federal Law No. (3) of 1987 (UAE Penal Code).

Issuance Date : 27 September 2020


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