Disclaimer: The material in this factsheet is a general guide only. It is not legal advice. For legal advice about your own particular situation we encourage you to call the Free Legal Helpline on 1300 366 424. The legal information was correct at the time of publishing (March 2016), however may change without notice.



The Legal Services Commission gratefully acknowledges the assistance of the NT Legal Aid Commission and National Children’s and Youth Legal Centre in allowing the Legal Services Commission of South Australia to use and adapt existing content.

Buying Alcohol

When can I buy alcohol?

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.

What if I am under 18 and someone sells me alcohol anyway?

If you are caught buying alcohol and you are under 18, you may get a warning or a formal caution from police.  If it is not the first time you have been caught, the police might send you to the Youth Court. The person that sells you alcohol is also committing an offence.

Do I need to show ID?

If you are buying alcohol, or entering part of a pub, club or bar that is restricted to adults, and look like you might be under 18, the staff can ask you to provide proof of age (a valid driver’s license, photo card, or passport showing that you are over 18). Police can also ask for proof of age.

Most places will always ask if you look younger than 25.  If you refuse, or if you give a fake ID, you are breaking the law.  You may be refused entry, not sold alcohol, or the police may give you a warning or caution. Your parents might be contacted.

When and where you can drink alcohol?

Can I drink 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:

  • Be on licensed premises with an entertainment venue licence between 9pm and 5am of the next day; and
  • Be on any other licensed premises between midnight and 5am if liquor may be sold in the area at that time.

The exception to this is where the place has permission on their licence; this is usually for the dining area or hotel bedroom areas of a venue.

If you are under 18, it is also against the law for you to drink, get, or be given alcohol while you are there.  It doesn’t matter if you are with your parent or guardian.  You can be given a warning, caution, or sent to Youth Court if you have been caught before.

If you ask your friend or family member who is over 18 to buy you alcohol, then that person, as well as you, is guilty of an offence.

Can I drink on private premises?

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

Also, if you are having a party and your guests are under 18, it is best to get permission from their parents before they have any alcohol.  You and your parents have a responsibility to take care to ensure those at your party are safe and not harmed. Your parents would be expected to supervise the party and to prevent excessive drinking and other safety risks. 

Can I drink in public places (un-licenced)?

Most places other than someone’s house count as public places.  For example public places can include:

  • Footpaths, roads, parks, beaches;
  • Community centres, halls and churches (if they’re not selling alcohol);
  • Theatres, libraries and galleries.

It is against the law for you to have alcohol, or drink alcohol, in a public place unless you are with your parent or guardian.

Any alcohol can be confiscated by the police and it will not be returned to you.

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