When can I buy 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 are caught buying alcohol and you are under 18, you can:
• be given a warning, or sent to a Youth Justice Conference; or
• be fined $298 on the spot by the police; or
• choose to have the matter decided by a court (which may fine you up to $2,980 if you are convicted).
It is up to the police to decide whether to give you a warning. If the police decide to fine you, then you can either choose to pay, or take the matter to court.
Do I need to show ID?
If you are 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 ask you to provide proof of age (a valid driver’s license, photo card, or passport showing that you are over 18).
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).
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. However, the person who gives you the alcohol will be breaking the law, unless:
• the alcohol is supplied by your parent or guardian; and
• your parent or guardian is supervising you properly.
In deciding whether you were properly supervised, the court will look at:
• how much alcohol you were given
• over how much time it was given;
• whether you were also eating food;
• how old you are;
• whether you were drunk.
Even if it is on private premises, there are heavy penalties if someone else gives you alcohol and they aren’t your parent and aren’t supervising you. The person can be given a fine of up to $14900.
Drinking in public places
Many public places in the Northern Territory are restricted drinking areas. It is illegal to have or drink alcohol in these places. You can find a list of these areas, and some maps, at the following website:
If you are caught, the police may fine you $149 on the spot. The alcohol can also be poured out or confiscated by the police.
If you would like additional information, you can visit:
If you’re under 25 and would like legal advice about a specific problem, you can send us a Lawmail.
You are free to copy and use this fact sheet
This page was last updated on 10 November 2014.