Underage Drinking (NT)

Under the Liquor Act 2019, alcohol is not to be sold to a person under 18 in the NT. There are numerous other offences under the Liquor Act that relate to the sale or supply of alcohol to a minor. These laws aim to protect the community while allowing the sale and supply of alcohol and the responsible development of the NT liquor industry. This article outlines some of the offences related to underage drinking in the NT.

Is underage drinking an offence?

In the NT, a person is only allowed to supply or serve alcohol to a minor if they are the minor’s parent or guardian and the minor drinks under their responsible supervision.

A guardian includes anyone who has the care and control of the child.

It is an offence for a person to supply or serve alcohol to a child under any other circumstances.

However, it is important to note that it is not actually an offence for a child to consume alcohol under other circumstances. There is, however, an offence that a child can be charged with if they misrepresent their age in an attempt to purchase alcohol or gain entry to licensed premises. There are also numerous offences adults can be charged with if they facilitate a child purchasing or consuming liquor.  

Using child to purchase liquor

It is an offence under section 296 to use a child to purchase or collect liquor from licensed premises. This is punishable by a fine of up to 50 penalty units.

Child employees

Children must not be used to sell or supply liquor in the NT unless special permission is given by the Director of Liquor Licensing for a child to do so as an employee or as part of training. Allowing a child to sell or supply liquor under other circumstances is an offence punishable by a fine of up to 85 penalty units.

Licensed premises

An area of a licensed premise may be prohibited to children or prohibited to unaccompanied children. Where this is the case, warnings must be posted in the area affected. A licensee commits an offence if they allow a child to enter or remain in a prohibited area. This offence is punishable by a fine of up to 85 penalty units.

Lying about a child’s age

Under section 300, it is an offence for a minor to misrepresent they age to gain entry to licensed premises or to purchase liquor.

It is an offence for a child to intentionally purchase liquor, or to intentionally misrepresent their age by lying about their age or by presenting false ID.

It is also an offence for another person to provide their ID to a child to use to misrepresent their age in order to purchase liquor.  

These offences are punishable by a fine of up to 50 penalty units.  

Supplying liquor to a child

A person must not serve or supply liquor to a child unless they are the child’s parent or guardian and are supervising the child responsibly.

A person is guilty of this offence if they supply liquor to a person who is a child and they know or are reckless as to whether the person is a child.

This offence is punishable by a fine of up to 100 penalty units.

Whether a person was supervising a child responsibly depends on:

  • Whether the adult was impaired;
  • Whether the child was intoxicated;
  • The age of the child;
  • Whether the child was consuming the alcohol with food;
  • The quantity of liquor supplied and the period over which it was supplied.

Underage drinking in licensed premises

Under section 303, it is an offence for a licensee to sell, supply, or serve liquor to a child on licensed premises. This is punishable by a fine of up to 200 penalty units. If the employee of a licensee sells, supplies or serves alcohol to a child, they are liable to a fine of up to 100 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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