Offences Involving Underage Drinking

The sale, supply and consumption of alcohol in WA is regulated by the Liquor Control Act 1988. The act contains offences relating to selling or supplying alcohol to a person who is below the legal drinking age. It also makes it illegal to allow underage persons into licensed premises, except under particular circumstances. This article outlines the laws relating to underage drinking in WA. 

Licensed Premises And Underage Persons

Minors are not allowed into licensed premises in WA unless:

  • they are accompanied and supervised by a parent or guardian;
  • they are there to eat a meal;
  • they are employed there;
  • they are a member of the licensee’s family;

or in a number of other circumstances that are set out in section 120 of the act.

It is an offence to sell or supply alcohol to an underage person on licensed premises or to permit a minor to drink alcohol on licensed premises. This can attract a fine of up to $10,000 for the licensee or manager and up to $$4,000 for anyone else.

It is an offence for an adult to buy alcohol on behalf of a minor at licensed premises. When this happens both the adult and the minor may be fined $2,000.

It is an offence for the parent or guardian of a minor to leave them unaccompanied at licensed premises without first informing the licensee or an employee of the licensee. This can be punished by a fine of $2,000.

Underage Persons And Unlicensed Premises

A person must not supply alcohol to an underage person in WA on unlicensed premises unless they are the parent or guardian of the young person (or have permission from their parent or guardian). The penalty for this is a fine of $10,000.

A person must not supply alcohol to an underage person even with the permission of their parent or guardian if:

  • the parent or guardian was intoxicated when they give permission;
  • the adult is intoxicated;
  • the underage person is intoxicated;
  • the person is unable to supervise the young person’s consumption of alcohol.

Underage drinking and related offences 

An underage person commits an offence if they purchase or obtain or try to purchase, obtain or consume alcohol in WA. This can attract a fine of $2,000.

Sending Underage Person To Get Liquor

It is an offence to send a person, knowing or believing them to be underage, to licensed premises to buy or obtain alcohol. This can attract a fine of $2,000.

Defences

It is a defence to an offence involving the sale or supply of alcohol to an underage person if:

  • the young person was a family member of the licensee or a person employed or living at the premises; or
  • the young person was the spouse or partner of a lodger at the premises.

It is a defence to an offence of selling or supplying alcohol to a young person if the young person was over 16 and the accused believed on reasonable grounds that they were over 18.

Identification

When a staff member at licensed premises suspects that a person is under 18, they may ask the person their age and for evidence of their age. If the person fails to produce proof of age, they can be asked to leave.

A person who fails to leave premises when asked to do so, or who produces a fake ID, can be fined $2,000.

If staff believe that ID is false, they may confiscate the document.

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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