Skip to main content

Your A to Z guide for Alcohol Drinking Laws (Mututho) in Kenya

It's Friday again. Young ladies leaving work early to pass by the salon for a touch up. Young men going through their bank balance, MPESA balance and wallet to confirm their capacity for damage. Married men leaving their calculators tucked deeply under their work files in the office; and everybody in between getting ready to party. As you plan to paint tonight red, here's an A to Z guide of how to stay on the right side of the law - especially in light of the Alcoholic Drinks Control Act, 2010 a.k.a. Mututho Law.

A - Alcohol

So that we know what we're dealing with, take a look at how the Act defines alcohol. It includes any alcoholic drink with at least 0.5% alcoholic content except for methylated spirit or denatured alcohol (which kinda provides a loophole because Kenyan's have been known to take alcohol unfit for human consumption). The Act regulates production, sale and consumption of alcohol.

UPDATE:Read recently that the law regarding proximity to schools has been relaxed

B - Bars that are illegal

Don't wanna get caught up in an illegal bar raid, then avoid bars that are closer than 300 metres from a primary or secondary school, or those that do not have clean and adequate toilets.

C - Clubbing

Night clubs are allowed to sell alcohol from 7:00 PM to 3:00 AM Monday to Friday. Clubs that want to sell from 5:00PM on weekdays and 2:00 PM on weekends need to also get a bar license. That means that your night ends at 3:00 AM, any minute after that you're on your own.

D - Drunk and Disorderly

If you're behaving drunk and disorderly,  violent, or quarrelsome, the bar can eject you by force. If charged and convicted in court for being drunk and disorderly in public you face a fine of Sh. 500

E - Excessive Consumption

If the bar owner thinks you're intoxicated, he can refuse to sell to you because it is an offence. Also if you encourage someone who is already intoxicated to consume alcohol this is also an offence.

F - Food with your Alcohol

Restaurants can sell alcohol to you at any time as long as you're consuming it together with food.

G - Government

Lots of people can enforce this Act including provincial administration (DOs, DCs, Chiefs), NACADA officers, policemen (by virtue of enforcing all laws) and even City Council Askari (if the Minister so recommends - don't think he has though)

H - Hours of Drinking

The safest times to be drinking are between 5:00PM and 8:30PM though depending on which license the alcohol seller has these hours can be extended. Places like the Armed Forces canteen (AFCO) are not even regulated by the act

I - Injunctions against the Law

There have been a couple of injunctions against implementation of the Act with the most recent filed by EABL just before Madaraka day. Contrary to some interpretations this injunction did not suspend the law but only sections of it - those dealing with warnings comprising 30% of the label. So if you're planning to use this injunction to defend yourself - watch out!

J - Jail Time and Fines

Fines start at around Sh. 500 for being drunk and disorderly to upto Sh.10,000,000 for selling spiked drinks. Longest jail term I've seen is three years.

K- Keeping it Local

The Act legalises chang'aa but with some qualifications: it must be hygienically bottled and it cannot be sold in quantities of less than 250ml. Other standards are supposed to be developed by NACADA so that chang'aa joins the ranks of waragi and konyagi

L - Licensing

Each district has a District Alcoholic Drinks Regulation Committee that is tasked with assigning licenses and make inspections.

M - Madeni za pombe

For those who like to drink on credit, you'd be happy to know that no debt is recoverable in respect of sale of alcohol unless it was in a hotel where the debtor was a lodger or restaurant where served together with a meal.

N - Nursing the Hangover

:) The Act makes no mention of this, but try boiled eggs, bananas, lots of water and fruit juice. Avoid fatty foods (no passing by Kenchic on your way home!), and caffeinated drinks (tea, coffee, redbull, coke)

O - Open Drinks

Be careful not to accept a drink not opened in your presence or imbibe a drink that was left open and unattended. Several cases exist where beautiful women will drug unwitting male patrons in order to easily steal from them - they are supported many times by cab drivers so know your cabbie. Ladies have to be even more careful not to be drugged.

P - Police Powers

As usual our boys in blue will be on the prowl to shake down anyone unlucky enough to be on the wrong side of the law and where they refuse to, let them cool their heels in the slammer. Getting jailed on a Friday night is the worst possible night, as the earliest you can be taken to court is Monday morning.

Q - Quitting while Ahead

Know your limits, don't drink and drive and if you start drooping in the club it's time to go home.

R - Repeal of old laws

The old liquor licensing act and chang'aa prohibition act have been repealed but not every cop knows that.

S - Staying at Home

Since introduction of the law, this has become a popular way to have your drink without restriction. If you however think that you can also sell liquor from your house without restriction you'd be mistaken. As long as you're selling alcohol the Act regulates you.

T - Toys that Imitate Alcohol

Goes without saying that these are illegal, we can't let the young ones get hooked in through toys.

U - Underage Drinking

Age of drinking is 18 years, which is good because this is also the age of voting. You can vote, you can drink. Sell to someone under 18 and you face a Sh.150,000 fine or 1 year in jail.

V - Videos showing Alcohol Drinking and Social Success

This probably defines 90% of the local music videos. A guy goes to a club, gets a drink and soon after has a bunch of scantily dressed women gyrating to his beats and showing him love. Try and use this to promote a drink (or drinking - as in the case of a bar/club) and you can be in serious trouble.

W - Wines and Spirits.

A huge ignorance exists about what wines and spirits can/cannot do. First of all understand that these usually get off-licence licenses, which means that the alcohol is not consumed where it is bought (you take it home or somewhere else). Under this license, they can only sell alcohol between 5:00PM and 8:30PM

X - eXcessive Alcohol Consumption is Harmful to your Health

That's one of the warning messages that should be on your drink, the others are:

  • Excessive alcohol consumption can cause liver cirrhosis;
  • Excessive alcohol consumption impairs your judgment; do not drive or operate machinery;
  • Not for sale to persons under the age of 18 years.
Y - YouTube, Twitter, Facebook

Think you can promote your drink (in contravention on the restrictions on advertising) on the internet or on social media? Think again. Act makes sure no one will try this by imposing a Sh.3,000,000 fine or 3 years in jail or both for anyone who tries this.

Z - Zero Percentage Alcohol Drinks

Remember you can also have fun with your family and/or friends even when drinking non-alcoholic drinks. Alvaro, Novida, Sodas, Red Bull, water, and even tea are all possible alternatives. Plus there are non-alcoholic wines that exist to ensure you continue looking sophisticated and posh with a wine glass (as opposed to a fanta orange bottle) :)

Have a happy Friday all, and if you're a young lady planning to go drinking this post is a good read!


Popular posts from this blog

Early Birds Toastmasters Three Years Later

Almost three years ago to the day, I gave my CC9 speech at my then home club Nairobi Toastmasters on the need to set up a new toastmasters club. It's been my great privilege since then to see dozens of enthusiastic men and women come together and form what is without a doubt the best club in Kenya - Early Birds Toastmasters . Recently one of our members at Early Birds who flew back to San Francisco where he's domiciled told me that Early Birds also beats hands down the three clubs he visited in San Francisco. I am excited at how far we've come and I look forward to another three years of being part of the born ready leaders at Early Birds Toastmasters. Enjoy the speech below Early Birds How many can tell me what the first toastmasters promise is? Fellow toastmasters and guests, today I’d like to present you with an opportunity. An opportunity that helps you achieve that first promise, but can also result in so much more. My friends - both old and new - today I

Becoming a Competent Leader

"If you want to know if you're a leader, look behind you and see if you have followers". I read that quote yesterday while browsing through articles on my LinkedIn home page. I can't remember who it was attributed to and don't remember much of the article but that quote stuck. It's a great quote: simple, catchy and easy to apply. But is it true? What makes someone a leader, and better yet how can you evaluate not just whether you're a leader but a good leader? Throughout history we've had all types of leaders - some who've led their countrymen to slaughter innocent thousands; others who got their followers to commit mass suicide; while still others milked their followers dry for personal financial gain. How do I ensure that I am a good and competent leader? Personally I have struggled with this question. As I get older, get assigned more responsibility, and have more people dependent on me to lead them - I need to ensure that I not only l

Nurting Innovators at Riara University - Valedictorian Speech

  Here is my valedictorian speech given during Riara University's first graduation   On January 7 th , 2013 on my 31 st birthday I received a strange gift from my sister. It was a deposit slip for part payment of fees for a one-year evening diploma course to a brand new University which I hadn’t heard of before. I had 1 week to make up my mind, or she could offer it to someone else. I decided to research a bit before making a decision, and I’d start first of the website. When the webpage loaded it took me all of 5 seconds to make a decision. Yes, I definitely wanted to attend Riara University. It all came down to 2 words, proudly proclaimed on the university’s logo Nurturing Innovators At my age, I’d been fortunate to have already attended two universities: Strathmore down the road where I learnt computing and University of Nairobi where I studied law. But never before had I felt such a strong emotional connection to a place of learning like I felt with Riara. And it was a