12 AUGUST 2019


There are several laws relating to buying and consuming alcohol for under-18s.
What does the law say?

To sell alcohol to someone under 18 anywhere.
For an adult to buy or attempt to buy alcohol on behalf of someone under 18. (Retailers can reserve the right to refuse the sale of alcohol to an adult if they’re accompanied by a child and think the alcohol is being bought for the child.)
For someone under 18 to buy alcohol, attempt to buy alcohol or to be sold alcohol.
For someone under 18 to drink alcohol in licensed premises, except where the child is 16 or 17 years old and accompanied by an adult. In this case it is legal for them to drink, but not buy, beer, wine and cider with a table meal.
For an adult to buy alcohol for someone under 18 for consumption on licensed premises, except as above.
To give children alcohol if they are under five.

It is not illegal:

For someone over 18 to buy a child over 16 beer, wine or cider if they are eating a table meal together in licensed premises.
For a child aged five to 17 to drink alcohol at home or on other private premises.

For more information visit our page on buying alcohol.
Consequences of breaking the law

If the police suspect someone under 18 has alcohol in a public place, they have the power to confiscate it. If young people get caught with alcohol three times they could face a social contract, a fine or arrest.

The police can also confiscate alcohol from someone, no matter what their age, if they believe it has been, or will be drunk by someone under 18 in a public place.