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 $274 on the spot by the police; or
  • choose to have the matter decided by a court (which may fine you up to $2,740 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.

The person selling you alcohol can be fined heavily, or even sent to prison.


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).

Most places will always ask if you look younger than 25. If you don’t have ID, you can be refused entry to a place or not allowed to buy alcohol.

It is against the law to use a fake ID to buy alcohol, or to use one to enter a place where alcohol is served, like a pub, bar or club. If caught trying, you can be fined $274 on the spot,4 or up to $6,850 by a court. People who make fake IDs can be sent to prison for up to 6 months. Anyone can take an ID from you if they have a reason to think it is fake. 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 or sent to a Youth Justice Conference; or
  • be fined $274 on the spot by the police; or
  • choose to go to court (which may fine you $2,740).


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:

 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.

There are heavy penalties if someone else gives you alcohol, even if it is on private premises. The person can be given a big fine or even sent to prison.


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 $137 on the spot. The alcohol can also be poured out or confiscated by the police.



Additional information

If you would like additional information, you can visit:

Alternatively, if you would like more detailed advice or have a specific problem, you can send us a Lawmail.

This page was last updated on 29 May 2012.