Alcohol

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.

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Buying 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 I am caught buying 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 by the police; or
  • You can be given a formal caution by the police; or
  • You can get fined $78.00 on the spot by the police; or
  • you can choose to have the matter decided by a court (which may fine you up to $777.30 if you are found guilty).

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 drivers’ licence (including one issued in another state or territory); or
  • a proof of age card (including one issued in another state or territory); or
  • a passport.

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: 

  • given a warning, a formal caution, fined on the spot ($233.00), or arrested.

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.

Drinking at home

Generally you can drink alcohol at home when you are under 18.

If your parent, guardian,  spouse (over the age of 18 or someone who is authorised by them to give you alcohol) gives you alcohol at home, you are allowed to drink it as long as you are supervised by them.  Otherwise, the person who gives you alcohol could be breaking the law.

Drinking in public places

What is a public place?

Most places other than someone’s house are public places. They usually include:

  • Footpaths, roads, parks, beaches;
  • Shopping centres;
  • 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;
  • Hospitals.

This does not include “licensed premises” (see below).

You should also check with your local council to see if there are alcohol-free zones near where you live.

Can I drink in a public place?

It is against the law for you to have alcohol, or drink alcohol, in a public place unless:

  • you are having or drinking the alcohol as part of a meal and you are with your parent, guardian, or spouse (18 or over).

Otherwise, if you are caught you can be:

  • given a warning, a formal caution, fined on the spot ($78.00), or choose to go to court.

The police decide which penalty to apply, but you can always choose to go to court instead. If you are not allowed to have, or drink alcohol, the alcohol can be confiscated by the police and tipped out.

Drinking at house parties

Private premises are places like your home or a friend’s home. The law says it is ok for  you to 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 18 or over); 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. 

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.

Drinking on licensed premises

What are licensed premises?

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 most restaurants (including BYO restaurants where people bring their own alcohol).

Can I drink on licensed premises? 

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 having a meal; or
  • 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  ordinary trading hours; or
  • you are there for training in hospitality or training for work experience or employment at the licenced premises.

Otherwise, if you are caught, you can be:

  • given a warning, a formal caution, fined on the spot ($78.00), 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 also be confiscated by the police.

Additional information

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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The law is different in each state and territory. Please select your state or territory to view legal information that applies to you.