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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What if I am under 18 and I am caught buying alcohol anyway?
If caught buying alcohol anyway, you can:
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 person selling you alcohol can also be fined heavily.
Do I need to show ID?
If you’re 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 licence, photo card, or passport showing that you are over 18).
Most places will ask you for ID 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 age and to see your ID. If you don’t show ID, or use a fake ID, you are breaking the law and can:
Fake IDs can be confiscated. For more information see our Fake ID page.
You are allowed to drink alcohol at home if supplied by a parent or guardian or someone who has the permission of your parent or guardian to supply you alcohol.However, a person who has your parent or guardian’s permission must not supply you with alcohol if you or they are drunk, they cannot supervise you drinking alcohol or your parent/guardian was drunk when they gave permission. Otherwise, that person can be fined $10,000 for supplying you with alcohol.
It is against the law for you to have alcohol, or drink alcohol, in a public place.
If you are caught, the police may give you a warning, fine you $200 on the spot, or you can have the matter decided by a court. The alcohol can also be confiscated by the police and it will not be returned to you.
Most places other than someone’s house are public places. They usually include:
Places like your home or a friend’s house are known as private premises.
There are no laws that make it a crime to drink alcohol on private premises BUT you may only be supplied alcohol by someone who is your parent or guardian or someone who has permission of your parent or guardian to supply you alcohol. It is best that the permission be in writing (eg a text message or email).
For permission to be granted, the parents or guardians granting permission and the person being granted permission to supply alcohol must not be drunk.
If someone supplies you or your friend alcohol without your parent or guardian’s permission, they can receive a $10,000 fine.
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.
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, get, or be given alcohol on licensed premises. It doesn’t matter if you are with your parent or guardian. If you are caught, you can be:
The police decide which penalty to apply, but you can always choose to go to court instead.
Remember, if you are under 18 it’s also against the law for you to even be on licensed premises (say a pub, club or bar) unless you are under the care of a parent or responsible adult or you’re having a meal, or if it’s a licensed restaurant and you are there to have a meal.
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