Drinking in Australia is very common. Often it’s very social and enjoyed with friends. However, it can be easily misused and have some serious legal consequences. It is important that you are aware of the different laws on what age and who can buy alcohol, and where you are allowed to drink.
Remember, if you are drinking it is important to be safe, and not to drink under pressure if you are feeling uncomfortable.
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 I am caught buying alcohol anyway?
If you are caught buying alcohol and you are under 18, you can:
It is up to the police to decide whether to give you a warning, formal caution or fine. If the police decide to fine you, then you can either choose to pay within 28 days, start an instalment plan or take the matter to Magistrates Court. This applies for all fines, but you should be aware that if a court decides you are guilty of the offence, you will likely have to pay a much higher amount. A caution or fine is not a criminal charge.
The person selling you alcohol can be fined heavily if found guilty (up to $9,752).
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. 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 will not be allowed to buy alcohol as both the venue and the person who lets you in can be fined heavily if you are under 18.
You can prove your age with a:
Any proof of age document must be current, have your photo and must show that you are over 18 (by referring to your birth date).
A police officer who suspects that you have entered a licensed venue area or have purchased alcohol though you are over 18 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 ($487), or choose to go to court (however you risk the maximum penalty of $3048 if found guilty).
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 $365 on the spot for doing so. For more information see our Fake ID page.
“Private premises” are places like your home or a friend’s home but not “public places” like parks or beaches. 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 may be breaking the law. The can be fined up to $9752 in court, unless they are:
an adult who has parental rights and responsibilities for you (eg if you go to a friend’s house and your parents have told your friend’s parents that you are allowed to drink while under their supervision).
If there is alcohol at a house party and people are under 18, they should get permission from their parents to drink alcohol at the house party.
But even if you have permission, if you are drinking at private place you must be supervised responsibly. It is up to the police officer to decide whether your parent, guardian or supervising adult should be taken to court for not giving responsible supervision, but it would be more likely to happen if you are:
In any event, you and your parents have a responsibility to take care of those at the party and 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.
Queensland Police recommend that you should be aware of how much you drink and how the alcohol may affect you. Visit the website for more information.
Most places other than someone’s house are public places. They usually include:
If you are under 18, you can drink alcohol at a public place if:
If you are under 18 and caught drinking alcohol in a public place without adult supervision, you might be warned, cautioned, or the police may fine you $365 on the spot. You can always choose to have the matter decided by a court. For more information on supervision by a responsible adult, see the “House Parties” section above.
You should also be aware that it is against the law for any person in Queensland (regardless of your age) to drink alcohol in a public place that is a road, local government land (such as sporting fields or parks) and doorways/entrances to these places.
This does not apply if 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). It is best to check local signs and websites before you take alcohol to a public place, just to make sure.
If you are caught you may be fined $121.
“Licensed premises” are places that have been given a licence 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 be served alcohol on licensed premises. It doesn’t matter if you are with your parent or guardian. If you are under 18, you cannot even be on licensed premises (like in a pub, club or bar), unless:
In both situations if you are caught, you can be:
The police decide which penalty to apply, but you can always choose to go to court.
However, if the venue is a nightclub, you can’t be on the premises after 5pm if you are only eating a meal or you are with a responsible adult.
If you would like more information, you may like to visit:
If you have a question about alcohol that we haven’t answered here, you can get help here.
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