This article was written by Fernanda Dahlstrom - Content Editor - Brisbane

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

What is the Legal Drinking Age in New South Wales?


The legal drinking age in New South Wales is 18. There are a number of criminal offences relating to the supply of alcohol to a person below the legal drinking age in New South Wales and these can result in significant fines for both the person who supplies the alcohol and for the young person involved. The laws around alcohol in New South Wales are contained in the Liquor Act 2007.

Legislation

The Liquor Act 2007 aims to regulate the liquor industry in a way that is consistent with minimising the abuse of alcohol and its adverse effects. It contains a number of offences relating to the sale and supply of alcohol to minors as well as to allowing minors to enter or remain on licenced premises. These offences can attract fines of up to 100 penalty units (currently $11,000). Some offences also carry imprisonment.

Selling alcohol to minors

Under section 117 of the Liquor Act, it is an offence to sell alcohol to a minor. It is also an offence to supply alcohol to a minor on licensed premised.

These offences are punishable by a fine of up to 100 penalty units or imprisonment for up to one year, or both.

It is a defence to either of these offences if the minor who was sold or supplied alcohol was aged over 14 and had provided an evidence of age document that appeared to prove they were aged over 18.

Supply alcohol to persons below legal drinking age

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

Supplying a minor with alcohol in any other circumstances is an offence and punishable by a fine of up to 100 penalty units or imprisonment for one year, or both.

Obtaining liquor for minors from licensed premises

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

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

Underage drinking

It is an offence under section 118 of the Liquor Act for a person below the legal drinking age to obtain, consume, or carry away alcohol from licensed premises unless they consume the alcohol in the presence of and with the permission of their parent or guardian. This is punishable by a fine of up to 20 penalty units (currently $2200).

It is also an offence to send a minor to licensed premises to obtain liquor.  This is punishable by a fine of up to 30 penalty units.

Minors not to supply liquor

It is an offence to allow a person below the legal drinking age in New South Wales to sell, supply or serve liquor on licensed premises. This can attract a fine of up to 50 penalty units.

Minors and licensed premises

Minors are not allowed to enter the bar area of a hotel or club, or a small bar. Minors are allowed to enter licensed entertainment venues only if accompanied by a parent or guardian. The penalty for this offence is a fine of up to 20 penalty units.

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

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

Identification

Staff of licensed premises are allowed to request identification to prove that a person is above the legal drinking age in New South Wales.

A person must not refuse or fail to provide identification or to state their name, address and date of birth. Doing so can attract a fine of up to 20 penalty units.

A minor who uses false identification to gain entry to licensed premises or to obtain alcohol commits an offence and may be fined up to 20 penalty units.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

WHERE TO NEXT?

If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.

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