A dry area is a place where you're not allowed to have or drink alcohol. The purpose of a dry area is to curb alcohol-related problems and anti-social behaviour in public areas such as:

  • reserves
  • main shopping precincts
  • car parks
  • beaches and foreshores
  • communities where drinking in public places is an indicator of complex social issues.

It's not an offence to have alcohol while genuinely passing through a dry area if:

  • it's unopened and in the original container in which it was purchased from a licensed premises
  • it's in the course of carrying on a business, such as a packaged liquor sales licensee delivering a bottle/s of wine
  • you live near a dry area and must pass through it to enter your home
  • the alcohol is for religious purposes.

Find a dry area - information for consumers

Before you have an event in a public place, you need to check if it's a dry area.

There are two types of dry area:

If you buy a bottle of wine at a licensed venue to have with a meal but don't finish it, you are allowed to take the closed bottle with you, even if you have to pass through a dry area. You may need to prove that you bought the bottle at a nearby licensed venue - eg by showing the receipt.

Anyone who has or drinks alcohol in a dry area can be fined up to $1,250 or be given an on-the-spot fine of $160.

Councils applying for a dry area

Councils can declare a short term dry area in their local council area, or apply to Consumer and Business Services (CBS) for a long term dry area.

Short term (48 hours or less)

Councils can declare a short term dry area of 48 hours or less by publishing a notice in the Government Gazette. Approval from CBS isn't needed.

For short term dry areas councils must:

  • publish a notice no later than 14 days prior to the event
  • notify the commissioner of Police no later than seven days prior to the event.

Publishing notices in the Government Gazette

Long term (over 48 hours)

Long term dry areas are designed to work as part of a broader local level strategy to reduce alcohol-related problems in the area. Councils must apply to CBS at least four months before the dry area will take effect.

Long term dry areas can be either:

  • for a specified period of time
  • ongoing.

There is no fee for applying.

How to apply

To apply for a dry area you will need:

  • the date and time requested
  • a letter outlining why the council is seeking the prohibition - eg anti-social behaviour related to alcohol misuse
  • evidence of any community consultation
  • consultation with relevant service providers to address displacement issues
  • a letter of support from the officer in charge of the local police station
  • a letter of support from the local Member of Parliament
  • a detailed and accurate description and plan of the area in the application including GIS data of the boundary.

Send all the relevant documents to CBSRegServices@sa.gov.au.

If the long term dry area is for more than 14 days, it's declared by the minister. If it is less than 14 days it's declared by the Liquor and Gambling Commissioner.

Dry areas are made public by notice in the Government Gazette following a recommendation by the Commissioner.

Boundaries and plans

Dry areas should be bounded by commonly identifiable geographical features. In order of precedence they should follow:

  1. legal allotments (cadastre) boundaries
  2. road reserves that adhere to allotments
  3. topographic features.

Plans must be produced by the council as there may be copyright issues with using plans provided by external agencies.

Descriptions and plans are legal documents and are published in the Government Gazette. They may be used in court and must be clear, exact and unambiguous.

CBS has developed some examples of dry area plans, and rules to define and produce them:

Signage requirements

The dry area should have adequate signage to inform the public that alcohol is not allowed. Inadequate signage can cause confusion for the public and makes it harder for police to enforce dry areas.

Signs should be:

  • placed at every major vehicle and pedestrian entrance to the dry area
  • no smaller than 450 mm x 225 mm
  • clearly visible
  • placed in prominent places and unobscured by trees, buildings or other signs.

In the case of parklands and large open spaces, signs should be placed around the dry area perimeter at no less than 25 metres apart. Signs should contain:

  • the location of the dry area - eg 'city square bounded by XX St and YY Ave'
  • the hours of prohibition - eg '24 hours' or 'between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am'
  • the police assistance number 131 444.

Example dry area sign (PDF 110KB)

Contact CBS Liquor and Gaming

Email: liquorandgaming@sa.gov.au

Phone: 131 882

GPO Box 2169
Adelaide SA 5001

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Page last updated 15 February 2023

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