The Inebriates Acts





It is somewhat difficult to define an inebriate, but for the moment the

following will suffice, and will ultimately, in all probability, be

officially adopted:



An inebriate is a person who habitually takes or uses any intoxicating

thing or things, and while under the influence of such thing or things,

or in consequence of the effects thereof, is--(a) dangerous to himself

or others; or (b) a cause of harm or serious annoyance to his family or

others; or (c) incapable of managing himself or his affairs, or of

ordinary proper conduct.



Under the provisions of the Habitual Drunkards Acts (42 and 43 Vict., c.

19, and 51 and 52 Vict., c. 19), any habitual drunkard may voluntarily

place himself under restraint. He must make an application to the owner

of a licensed retreat, stating the time during which he undertakes to

remain. His application must be accompanied by a statutory declaration

of two persons stating that they knew the applicant to be a confirmed

drunkard. Without this testimony as to moral character his application

cannot be entertained. His signature must also be attested by two

justices, who must state that he understands the effect of his

application, and that it has been explained to him. The limit to the

term of restraint is twelve months, after which he must resume his

former habits if he wishes to qualify for another period. The Act works

automatically, and, when it has been set for a certain time, the patient

cannot release himself until the period has expired. The Inebriates'

Retreat must be duly licensed, and the licensee incurs distinct

obligation in return for the powers entrusted to him. It is an offence

against the Act to assist any habitual drunkard to escape from his

retreat, and should he succeed in effecting his escape he may be

arrested on a warrant. A drunkard who does not obey orders and conform

to the rules of the establishment may be sent to prison for seven days.

It may be as well to mention that it is an offence to supply any

drunkard under the Act with any intoxicating drink or sedative or

stimulant drug without authority, and that the penalty is a fine of £20

or three months' imprisonment. The Act is a good one, but might be

carried farther with advantage. It has been ruled that a crime committed

during drunkenness is as much a crime as if committed during sobriety. A

person is supposed to know the effect of drink, and if he takes away his

senses by drink it is no excuse. He is held answerable both for being

under the influence of alcohol or of any other drug, and for the acts

such influence induces.



=Inebriates Act= (1898-1900).--If an habitual drunkard be sentenced to

imprisonment or penal servitude for an offence committed during

drunkenness, or if he has been convicted four times in one year, the

court may order him to be detained for a term not exceeding three years

in an inebriate reformatory.





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