- If you’re under 18, it’s against the law for you to buy alcohol. It’s also against the law to use a fake ID to try and buy alcohol or get into a pub, club or bar.
- If you’re under 18, it’s against the law to be on licensed premises unless you're with a parent or someone else responsible for you.
- If you’re caught breaking the law, you can be fined, given a caution or warning.
- There are no laws that make it a crime to drink alcohol on private premises BUT if you’re having a party it’s a good idea to get permission from the parents of anyone who is under 18.
When can I drink alcohol?
If you are under 18, it is against the law for you to buy alcohol. It is also against the law for anyone to sell you alcohol.
What if I am under 18 and someone sells me alcohol anyway?
If you’re under 18 and you’re caught buying alcohol, you can:
- Get a warning from the police; or
- get a formal caution from the police ; or
- get a fine up to $750 if you are convicted by a court.
The person selling you alcohol can also be heavily fined.
Do I need to show ID?
If you’re buying alcohol, or entering part of a pub, club or bar that is restricted to adults, and look like you might be under 18, the staff will probably ask you for ID. Acceptable ID includes:
- a proof of age card (including NSW Photo cards); or
If you don’t have ID, you can be refused entry to a place or not allowed to buy alcohol.5 It’s against the law for you to even be on licensed premises (say a pub, club or bar) unless you are under the care of a parent or responsible adult.
A police officer can also ask for ID if they think you have broken the law. If you don’t show ID to the police when asked, or use a fake ID, you can be:
- given a warning; or
- choose to go to court (which may fine you $750).
It is also against the law to use a fake ID to buy alcohol. For more information see our Fake ID page.
When and where can I drink alcohol?
Drinking on licensed premises
Licensed premises are public places that have been given a license by the government to sell or serve alcohol. These include bottle shops, pubs, bars, clubs, and some restaurants (called licensed restaurants).
If you are under 18, it is against the law for you to drink, obtain, or be given alcohol on licensed premises. It doesn’t matter if you are with your parent or guardian. If you are caught, you can be:
- given a warning, a formal caution, or choose to go to court (which may fine you $750).
The police decide which penalty to apply, but you can always choose to go to court instead.
Drinking on private premises
Private premises are places like your home or a friend’s home. There is no law which says you cannot drink on private premises when you are under 18. But anyone selling you alcohol can be fined. Also, if you are having a party and your guests are under 18, it is best to get permission from their parents before you serve them alcohol. You and your parents have a responsibility to take care to ensure those at your party are safe and not harmed. Your parents would be expected to supervise the party and to prevent excessive drinking and other safety risks.
Drinking in public places
Most places other than someone’s house are public places. They usually include:
- Footpaths, roads, parks, beaches;
- Restaurants, cafes and dining areas;
- Community centres, halls and churches;
- Theatres, libraries and galleries;
- Public transport (buses, trains, trams, aeroplanes, taxis, ferries);
- Gyms and sporting facilities;
It is against the law for you to have alcohol, or drink alcohol, in a public place. If you are caught, the police may warn you, or you may be fined up to $750 by a court.
For more information, you may like to visit the following websites:
This page was last updated on 10 November 2014.