Alcohol

  • 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, and even then you can’t drink.
  • If you’re caught breaking the law, you could be fined, given a caution or warning.
  • There are no laws that make it a crime to drink alcohol supplied by your parents in a private home BUT if you’re having a party and serving alcohol to under 18s, you generally need permission from people’s parents.

  • 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 formal caution;  or
    • be fined on the spot by the police ($341); or
    • choose to have the matter decided by a court (which may fine you up to $2,846 if you are convicted).

     

    It is up to the police to decide whether to give you a warning or a formal caution. 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.

     

    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 can 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.

     

    A police officer can also ask for your name, address and proof of your age. If you don’t provide your name, address, and proof of ID when asked, unless you have a very good excuse, you can be given a warning, a formal caution, fined on the spot ($455), or choose to go to court.

     

    The police decide which penalty to apply, but you can always choose to go to court instead.

     

    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. You can be fined $341 on the spot for doing so. 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 or have 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;
    • given a formal caution; 
    • fined on the spot ($341); or
    • choose to go to court.

     

    The police decide which penalty to apply, but you can always choose to go to court instead.

     

    You are breaking the law just by being on licensed premises (like in a pub, club or bar) if you are under 18, unless:

     

    •   you are with a responsible adult (like a parent or guardian); or


    •   you are eating a meal.

     

    You can be fined $341 on the spot by the police if you are caught.

     

    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, the person who gives you the alcohol will be breaking the law, unless:

     

    • they are a responsible adult (like a parent, guardian, or someone your parent has said can give you alcohol); and


    • they make sure you don’t have too much alcohol.

     

    In any other situation the person can be given a very big fine.

     

    Drinking in public places

     

    Most places other than someone’s house are public places. They usually include:

     

    •   Footpaths, roads, parks, beaches;


    •   Shopping centres;


    •   Unlicensed restaurants, cafes and dining areas (places that don’t sell alcohol);


    •   Community centres, halls and churches;


    •   Theatres, libraries and galleries;


    •   Public transport (buses, trains, trams, aeroplanes, taxis, ferries);


    •   Gyms and sporting facilities;


    •   Hospitals.

     

    It is against the law for you to have or drink alcohol in a public place unless:

     

    •   you are at a place that has been chosen by the local government as one where people can drink (this sometimes happens for barbecue areas, or when weddings are held in parks); and


    •   you are with a responsible adult (like your parent or guardian).

     

    If you are caught, you might be warned, cautioned, or the police may fine you $341 on the spot. You can always choose to have the matter decided by a court. The alcohol can also be taken by the police.

     

    Additional information

     

    For more information, you may like to visit the following websites:

     


     

     

    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 updated on 10 November 2014.