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
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
r 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.