Underage drinking

Underage drinking

The legal drinking age in Victoria is 18. If you are under 18 you are not allowed to buy alcohol. Usually you are not allowed to be in a licensed place where alcohol is served unless it is a restaurant or café or if you are there with your parents.

The person selling alcohol in a licensed place may ask you for proof of your age. This is because they can be fined if they serve alcohol to someone who is under the legal drinking age.

Buying alcohol

It is against the law to buy alcohol if you are under 18 years old, even if you are buying for an adult.

If you ask adult friends to buy alcohol for you, they can get fined if they give alcohol to you.

Proof of age

If bar staff think that you look young, they will ask for proof that you are old enough to be there.

You can be fined if you give a false name and address or if you refuse to give proof of age when you are asked.

You can get a proof of age card to show that you are over 18 years old if you do not have a driver licence. Forms are available from your local post office

Going to a pub or bar

If you are under 18 you can go to a pub or bar if you:

  • go with a responsible person, like your parents, grandparents or a guardian
  • are eating a meal
  • live or work or studying hospitality there.

You and the person who is serving you, and the owner of the licensed place can get a fine if you are caught in a licensed place like a bar or a pub when you are not authorised to be there.

Drinking alcohol at parties

It is also against the law to give alcohol to people who are under 18 without consent from their parents or guardian. This includes parties held in private homes.

If parents are organising parties for their under 18s it is probably best to get this permission in writing. This may also affect young adults who have guests who are under 18 in their homes.

Defences

It is a defence if the person who served the alcohol can prove that they had seen a document as evidence of the person's age at the time of the offence.

Penalties

The maximum penalty for allowing a young person in a licensed place, serving alcohol to a person under 18 or buying alcohol for someone underage is 60 penalty units.

An employee who serves alcohol to someone under 18 can be fined up to 10 penalty units.

The maximum penalty for a person under 18 who buys or drinks alcohol or who is found on licensed premises when they are not authorised to be there is 5 penalty units.

Get help

Find out how you can get help with criminal offences.