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 or supply alcohol to you.
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 or a formal caution. You can always decide to 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 will probably ask you to provide proof of age (a valid driver’s licence, photo card, or passport showing that you are 18 or over).
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 date of birth. If you refuse, or you lie, the police can charge you and you could be fined up to $7,850 if you are found guilty by a Court. The police can also arrest you, although this will only happen in very rare serious cases.
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 could be fined up to $1,570 if you are caught.
For more information see our Fake ID page.
You are allowed to drink alcohol at home if supplied by a parent, guardian an adult who has rights/responsibilities for you or an adult authorised to supply alcohol to you by your parent or guardian (18 and over) and you are being responsibly supervised. If someone else supplied you with alcohol to drink at home, they could be fined up to $15,700 if found guilty by a Court.
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.
It is against the law for any person to have opened alcohol, or drink alcohol, in the following places:
At certain times (usually after 10 pm) it is illegal to have open alcohol or drink at:
If the police have a reason for thinking you bought the alcohol illegally, they can detain and search you and can be confiscated from you (wherever you are) and disposed of. You can also be fined $314 for drinking in public.
Private premises are places like your home or a friend’s home. You can drink on private premises even if you are under 18. If you are having a party and your guests are under 18, you must get permission from their parents or guardian before you serve them alcohol. Your parents could be fined as much as $15,700 or could even go to jail if they don’t have permission to serve minors alcohol.
You and your parents also 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.
However, the person who gives you the alcohol will be breaking the law, unless:
Whether you were properly supervised will depend on:
Otherwise, there are heavy penalties for the person who gives you the alcohol.
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 drink, have, or be given alcohol in these places, even if you’re with your parents. You’re also not allowed to even be there unless there is a designated signposted area and you’re either having a meal or with your parents. If you are caught, you can be:
It is up to the police whether to give you a warning or caution.
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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