Offences Involving Underage Drinking (NSW)

In New South Wales, the legal age for drinking alcohol is 18. There are a number of offences relating to the supply of alcohol to a minor in NSW. These offences can result in significant fines for both the person doing the supplying and for the young person involved and even to periods of imprisonment. The laws around alcohol in NSW are set out in the Liquor Act 2007. This article outlines the laws surrounding underage drinking in NSW.

Legislation on underage drinking

The Liquor Act 2007 aims to regulate the NSW liquor industry in a way that minimises abuse of alcohol and its adverse effects. It contains offences relating to the sale and supply of alcohol to minors as well as offences involving allowing minors to enter or remain on licenced premises. These offences are punishable by fines of up to 100 penalty units. Some offences also carry imprisonment.

Selling Alcohol To Underage Persons

In New South Wales, it is an offence under section 117 of the Liquor Act to sell alcohol to a minor. It is also an offence to supply alcohol to an underage person on licensed premised.

These offences can both attract fines of up to 100 penalty units or imprisonment for up to one year or both. 

It is a defence to these offences if the young person who was sold or supplied alcohol was aged 14 or older and used a proof of age document that appeared to prove they were over 18.

Supply Alcohol To Underage Persons 

It is an offence to supply alcohol to someone who is underage on any premises other than licensed premises unless you are their parent or guardian (or authorised by them) AND the supply of liquor is consistent with the young person’s responsible supervision. Whether the supply is consistent with the responsible supervision of a minor is determined based on the minor’s age, the amount of alcohol consumed, whether it was consumed with food and other factors.

Supplying a minor with alcohol under other circumstances is an offence, which is punishable by a fine of a maximum of 100 penalty units or imprisonment for one year, or both.

Obtaining Alcohol From Licensed Premises

It is an offence to obtain alcohol for an underage person from licensed premises unless you are their parent or guardian. However, it is a defence if you had the permission of their parent or guardian.

It is an offence to allow liquor to be sold or supplied to an underage person on licensed premises. However, it is a defence if the alcohol was supplied by the young person’s parent or guardian.

Underage Drinking an Offence

Section 118 of the Liquor Act makes it an offence for a minor to obtain, consume, or carry away liquor from licensed premises unless they consume it in the presence of their parent or guardian. This offence can attract a fine of up to 20 penalty units.

It is also an offence to send an underage person to licensed premises to obtain liquor. This can attract a fine of up to 30 penalty units.

Minors Not To Supply Liquor

It is an offence to allow an underage person in New South Wales to sell, supply or serve liquor on licensed premises. This can attract a maximum fine of 50 penalty units.

Minors And Licensed Premises

Persons below the age of 18 are not allowed to enter the bar area of a hotel or club or a small bar. Minors are permitted to enter licensed entertainment venues only in the presence of a parent or guardian. The penalty for this is a fine of up to 20 penalty units.

However, a young person is not committing an offence under this provision if they are an apprentice or trainee who is receiving training or instruction at the premises or if they are present because they are performing in a show and are accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Minors may enter certain designated areas of licensed premises while accompanied by a parent or guardian. They may also enter licensed premises when an authorised function is being held.

ID and underage drinking

The staff of licensed premises can request identification to prove that a person is above the legal drinking age in NSW.

A person must not refuse or fail to provide ID or to state their name, address and date of birth. Doing so is an offence that can attract a maximum fine of 20 penalty units.

A minor who uses false ID to gain entry to licensed premises or to purchase alcohol commits an offence, which can attract a fine of a maximum of 20 penalty units.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Go To Court Lawyers. 

Author

Fernanda Dahlstrom

Fernanda Dahlstrom has a Bachelor of Laws, a Bachelor of Arts, a Master of Arts and a Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice. She practised law for eight years, working in criminal defence, child protection, domestic violence and family law in the Northern Territory and Queensland.
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