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, here’s what could happen:
- You can be given an informal warning; or
- You can be given a formal caution; or
- You can get fined $73.80 on the spot by the police;, or
- choose to have the matter decided by a court (which may fine you up to $738.05 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 alcohol can also be confiscated by the police.
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 will probably ask you for ID. Acceptable ID includes:
- a proof of age card (including NSW Photo cards); or
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, age, address and ID if you appear under 18 and:
- you are in an area of a pub, club or bar restricted to adults; or
- you are buying or have bought alcohol.
If you are in an area of a pub, club or bar that is restricted to adults, the staff can also ask for this information. If you don’t provide your name, age and address, you are breaking the law. If caught, you can be:
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 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 most restaurants (including BYO restaurants where people bring their own alcohol).
If you are under 18, it is against the law for you to drink, buy, or be given alcohol on licensed premises, unless:
- you are drinking while having a meal; and
- you are with your parent, guardian or husband or wife (who is at least 18).
It’s also against the law for you to even be on licensed premises unless:
- you’re with a parent, guardian or husband or wife (who is at least 18); or
- if you’re at a restaurant/café with a liquor licence and it’s between 7am and 11pm Monday to Saturday or between 10am and 11pm on Sundays.
Otherwise, if you are caught, you can be:
The police decide which penalty to apply, but you can always choose to go to court instead. The alcohol can also be confiscated by the police.
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, guardian or husband or wife (if they are over 18); or
- one of those people told another person it is alright for them to supply you alcohol.
Anyone else who gives you alcohol can be heavily fined, even if it is in someone’s home.
Drinking in public places
It is against the law for you to have alcohol, or drink alcohol, in a public place unless:
- you are with a responsible adult (a parent, guardian, or someone who is responsible for you).
Otherwise, if you are caught you can be:
- given a warning, a formal caution, fined on the spot ($73.80), or choose to go to court.
The police decide which penalty to apply, but you can always choose to go to court instead. The alcohol can be confiscated by the police.
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;
You should also check with your local council to see if there are alcohol-free zones near where you live.
If you would like more information, you may like to visit:
You are free to copy and use this fact sheet.
This page was last updated on 10 November 2014.