UAE legal Q&As: What charges would I face if I’m caught with alcohol but I don’t have a licence?

Can a passenger in a taxi that has been in an accident leave the scene before the authorities arrive if no one was injured?

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Q: If I am caught with a bottle of alcohol in my car or in a taxi and I am Christian but I don’t have an alcohol licence, what charges would I face? What would be the situation if I was Muslim?

A: The punishment for possession of alcoholic beverages without a licence is punishable by imprisonment for a maximum six months or fine of Dh5,000, or both. This is the case even if you do not consume those drinks. The possession of alcoholic drinks, whether opened or not, is prohibited by law. An offender can also expect the drinks to be confiscated. The Alcoholic Beverage Control Law of 1972 stipulates, in article three, that “no person may import, export, manufacture or obtain alcoholic beverages, or consume them or supply them to third parties, except for cases provided for in this law”. Article 313 states that the “hadd [limit] punishment for drinking alcohol shall not apply to non-Muslims”, implying that Muslims would face the maximum penalty while non-Muslims would not face the most severe punishment.

Q: What are the legal responsibilities of a passenger in a taxi should it be involved in a car crash? Should the customer wait for the arrival of the authorities or can they leave the scene if no one was injured?

A: If the taxi passenger suffered no injuries or losses, they are allowed to leave the scene after informing the driver.

Q: Are there any regulations surrounding returning to work following paid maternity leave, as is the case in the UK? Could someone take maternity leave and then resign partway through the maternity period (giving notice in line with their contract), or does the employee have to work a certain length of time after maternity leave to not have to pay the maternity leave back?

A: As per Article 30 of the UAE Labour Law, women on maternity leave are entitled to 45 days off on full pay, as long as she has completed a year of service. After that, women are also entitled to a further 100 days of unpaid leave. This is based on good faith that the employee will return to work to continue duties. However, Article 86 of the Labour Law states a resignation could only be accepted if approval is given by a government medical practitioner. Without this, a resignation during the maternity period would be a contract termination and she would be liable to pay back the leave payment.

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