‘Drunken tattoos’ could end in jail time

A RISE in "drunken tattoos" has sparked a call for dodgy artists to be reported for criminal assault - an offence that could lead to seven years in jail.

Australasian College of Cosmetic Surgeons spokesman and former president Dr John Flynn wants tighter legislation on artists working on people who are too intoxicated to give proper consent. He also encourages anyone with tattoo regret to take criminalaction.

While it is not an offence under the Tattoo Industry Act 2003, the Department of Justice and Attorney-General warns a person who unlawfully assaults a person and causes that person bodily harm is liable to a maximum penalty of seven years' jail under the Criminal Code.



"These drunken tattoos without proper consent are assault," Dr Flynn told The Sunday Mail. "Policing of every tattoo parlour is not always feasible so people need to start taking action.

"Tattoo removal is not an easy thing to do and you are likely to end up with scarring. A cooling-off period is a must."

South Australia introduced a law in 2012 making it illegal to tattoo a drunk or high customer, but Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath says there are no plans to introduce this law here.

Reputable Brisbane business Tradition Tattoo's Ben Rorke says his artists would definitely not tattoo someone they knew was under the influence.

Tattoo artist Emma Hudson at Valley Ink, Fortitude Valley. (AAP/Image Sarah Marshall)
Tattoo artist Emma Hudson at Valley Ink, Fortitude Valley. (AAP/Image Sarah Marshall)

"If we ever have any suspicions, we just politely send them away and ask them to come back another time," Mr Rorke said.

New research shows that one in five Australians has a tattoo.

Plastic surgeon Dr Laith Barnouti, specialising in cosmetic surgery, reports a rise in patients wanting drunken tattoo removal.

Tattoo removal is tricky
Tattoo removal is tricky

"Just last week I saw another successful airline attendant applicant requesting to remove the tattoo from her foot, as she will be subjected to exam prior to signing off for the job and the condition is that she should not have any tattoos on her body covered or not," Dr Barnouti said.

Dr Flynn says that a tattoo is a very invasive procedure and no one can be sure of the safety of the ink.

The process breaks the skin and injects a fluid into the dermis layer of the skin to change the pigment.

Tattoos are removed through a surgical procedure that can leave permanent scarring after multiple laser sessions. Some cannot be removed at all.

"You can't walk into surgery and have any other forms of surgical work done without consent, being sober and of clear mind. The same needs to happen for tattoos," he said.