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.
For free and confidential legal advice about this topic, please contact us here.
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 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 or a formal caution. They also need to advise you of your legal rights (eg that you are entitled to get legal advice).
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, passport or a keypass ID card issued by Australia Post 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, or told to leave the premises, not sold alcohol, or the police may give you a warning, caution or choose to go to Court. Your parents might be contacted.
For more information see our Fake ID page.
There is no law which says you cannot drink at home when you are under 18. Currently it is not against the law for someone to give you alcohol in a private place, but it is best that a responsible adult (e.g. parent or guardian) should be supervising you to reduce the risk of over consumption.
A public place means a place that the public have access to and includes parks, beaches, shopping centres, community centres, halls, churches, gyms, unlicensed restaurants, hospitals and public transport.
It is against the law for you to have alcohol on you, or drink alcohol, in a public place unless you are with your parent or guardian.
All city streets and squares in Adelaide are dry areas, meaning it is illegal to consume alcohol or carry any opened alcohol. In the past few years, Adelaide City Council has also been trialing a dry area in the Park Lands between 8pm and 11am.
If you are having a party and your guests are under 18 while not strictly required under the law, it is best to get permission from their parents or guardians before you serve them alcohol. It is best for this to be in writing (e.g. a text message or email). 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.
Check out our page on parties for more information.
Licensed premises are public 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 even be on licensed premises:
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.
This does apply if:
If you are caught with or drinking alcohol at a licensed premises, you can be given a warning, caution, or sent to Youth Court if you have been caught before.
If you would like more information, you may like to visit:
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