- 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 an informal caution or a formal caution.
- There are no laws that make it a crime to drink alcohol in a private home BUT if you’re having a party it’s a good idea to get permission from people’s parents if you are serving alcohol anyone under 18.
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 may
get a warning from police or get a formal caution from police. If it is not the first time you have been caught, the police might send you to the Youth 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 can ask you to provide proof of age (a valid driver’s license, photo card, or passport showing that you are over 18). Police can also ask for proof of age.
Most places will always ask if you look younger than 25. If you refuse, or give fake ID, you are breaking the law. You may be refused entry, not sold alcohol, or the police may give you a warning or caution. Your parents might be contacted.
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 even be on licensed premises:
- with an entertainment venue licence between 9pm and 5am of the next day.
- be on any other licensed premises between midnight and 5am (except for example, in a dining room) if liquor may be sold in the area at that time.
If you are under 18, it’s also against the law for you to drink, get, or be given alcohol while you are there. It doesn’t matter if you are with your parent or guardian. You can be given a warning, caution, or sent to Youth Court if you have been caught before.
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. Check out our page on parties for more information.
Drinking in public places
Most places other than someone’s house are public places. They usually include:
- Footpaths, roads, parks, beaches;
- Unlicensed restaurants, cafes and dining areas (places that do not sell alcohol);
- 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 unless you are with your parent or guardian.
The alcohol can be confiscated by the police and it will not be returned to you.
If you would like more information, you may like to 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.