Alcohol

Alcohol – can I drink it?  Can I buy it? What about drinking alcohol in public? What will happen if I use a fake ID?

Drinking Alcohol

You cannot drink alcohol if you are under 18. If you are under 18 and you drink alcohol you could be charged with underage drinking.  If you’re over 18, you need to be careful and responsible.

Buying or Supplying Alcohol

You must be over the age of 18 to purchase or drink alcohol or you and the provider can be charged or fined.

If you are over the 18 and buy or give alcohol to someone under the age of 18 you can also be charged for supplying alcohol to a minor. If a parent or other adult buys alcohol for anyone under 18 they can also be charged.

If you are under 18 it is also illegal to buy alcohol for someone else – for example, you cannot buy alcohol for your parents.

Drinking on Licensed Premises

Licensed premises are public places that have been given a license 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.

What if you use a Fake ID?

You can use a proof of age card, your drivers licence or your passport as your identification (“ID”) to prove your age.  If you don’t show ID when you are asked, or if you use a fake ID, you are breaking the law.

The term fake ID may refer to ID that doesn’t belong to you but is the ID of another person (such as your friend or your sister), as well as ID that has been altered or made illegally. It is illegal to make a fake ID, let someone else use your ID, or give false information in order to obtain ID.

Using a fake ID to gain entry to a venue serving alcohol or to purchase alcohol is illegal and can have serious consequences to both you and the venue – you can receive a large fine for using fake ID to gain entry to a licensed premises, and you may receive additional charges for alcohol offences (you could face even greater fines if the fake ID you used was someone else’s photo identification).  The venue can be also fined a substantial amount for providing alcohol to a minor and could lose their liquor licence.

Drink Spiking

Whatever your age you should never leave your drink unattended. Drink spiking (with drugs or alcohol) is illegal but does take place. Where possible you should watch your drink being made and never accept an opened drink from anyone you don’t know or trust.

Drinking Alcohol in Public

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.

It is against the law for you to have alcohol, or drink alcohol, in a public place that is not licensed, regardless of your age.  You can only have an open alcoholic drink in public if you are in a licensed venue or permitted area, and if you are over 18.

It’s important to know that if you walk down the street with an open alcohol container such as a can of beer, or you are drinking in a park or any other public space, you could be charged by police.

Differences between states

Northern Territory

In NT, it is illegal for someone under 18 to be provided with alcohol and to purchase alcohol. It is illegal for someone under 18 to drink alcohol in licensed premises (like pubs, bars, reception centres and restaurants), or in public places.

It is illegal to supply alcohol to persons under 18 in a private home unless it is supplied by a parent, step-parent, guardian or an adult who has the parental rights and responsibilities for the child. However, if the person supplying the alcohol does not provide responsible supervision to the child, they can be given a significant fine.

ACT

The inspectors from Liquor Licensing have the same powers as the police in relations to drinking offences.  Anything you say to an inspector can be used in court.

Western Australia

If you are under 18 and get caught buying alcohol (including on licensed premises), you can:

  • be given a warning or caution;
  • be fined on the spot by the police; or
  • choose to have the matter decided by a court (which may mean you pay an even larger fine if you are convicted).

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 be fined heavily, or even sent to prison – supplying alcohol to a person under the age of 18 on licensed premises can attract large fines.

Drinking on Private Premises

Private premises are places like your home or a friend’s home. There is no law which says you cannot drink on private premises when you are under 18, but anyone selling you alcohol can be fined.

Drinking in Public

If you are caught, the police may warn you, fine you 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.

Using Fake ID

If you don’t show ID, or use a fake ID, you are breaking the law and can:

  • be given a warning or caution; or
  • be fined on the spot by the police; or
  • choose to have the matter decided by a court (which may mean you pay an even larger fine if you are convicted).

NSW

In NSW if you get caught drinking underage you can be given a hefty fine.  If a parent or other adult buys alcohol for anyone under 18, they can also be charged an even larger fine and/or may be imprisoned for up to 12 months.

Victoria

You must be over 18 to purchase or drink alcohol in Victoria or you and the provider can be charged or fined. You must be over 18 to be in a licensed premises with some exceptions, such as if you are there for a meal, work there or are with a responsible adult.

It is against the law to serve alcohol to someone under 18 in your home, with out the permission of the person’s parents. Penalties apply if your are caught breaking the law.

You can find more information on the Department of Health website.

South Australia

In South Australia, it is illegal for someone under 18 to be provided with alcohol and to purchase alcohol. It is illegal for someone under 18 to drink alcohol in licensed premises (like pubs, bars, reception centres and restaurants), or in public places.

If you are under 18 and get caught, or if you are over 18 and caught supplying alcohol to someone under 18, the penalty can be a hefty fine. If you are under 18 and ask someone to purchase alcohol for you, both you and the adult can be fined.

It is not illegal for a person under 18 to drink alcohol in a private residence provided there is a responsible adult to supervise them. The responsible adult will have a legal duty of care to those under their supervision and are required to inform other parents if they are providing alcohol to their children. For instance, if a parent agrees to host a teenage party for their son or daughter in their home where some alcohol will be served, they will need to let the other parents know.

Tasmania

In Tasmania, 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.

It is generally illegal to supply alcohol to people under 18, unless it is in a private property and the alcohol is supplied by a parent or guardian (or someone who your parent or guardian has told that they can give you alcohol), and that they are supervising you properly.

Supervising you properly means that they need to be aware of how old you are, how much you have had to drink and over what period of time you have been drinking; they need to also be aware that food should be available; and they need to be aware if you get drunk or not.

If you are drinking on private property, and something happens to you because you were not supervised properly, then your parent or guardian can be given a hefty fine or a given a jail term of up to 12 months in situations where the offence is deemed to be more serious.

Queensland

In Queensland, if you are under 18 it is also illegal for you to be on, or to consume alcohol on, licensed premises (eg. nightclubs or bars) or possess alcohol or bring alcohol onto licensed premises. Penalties include an on-the-spot fine. Supplying alcohol to a person under the age of 18 on licensed premises can attract large fines as well.

It is an offence in QLD for persons of any age to have an open alcoholic drink in public if not in a licensed venue or permitted area, such as on the street, park or beach. Drinking in public can lead to an on-the-spot fine, for both adults and under 18s.