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Alcohol laws for under 18s

Alcohol laws vary in each state and territory in Western Australia.

In Western Australia the alcohol laws are governed by the Liquor Control Act 1988.

Secondary supply laws

On 20 November 2015 new laws came into effect regarding the secondary supply of alcohol. Under this law it is an offence for anyone to supply under 18’s with alcohol in a private setting without parental or guardian permission. This offence carries a maximum penalty of $10,000.

Alcohol can increase the risk of injury, mental health problems, and cause permanent damage to young peoples’ developing brain. For these reasons the national health guideline for children and young people under 18 years of age, states that not drinking alcohol is the safest option.

Parents not wanting their children to drink alcohol are now able to stand firm in their decision not to provide young people with alcohol as secondary supply law means adults are legally not able to give alcohol to another person’s child, on a private premise, without parental permission.

For detailed information on secondary supply, please refer to these FAQs or visit the Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor website.

Frequently asked questions

Is it against the law for a 17 year old to supply another 17 year old?

Yes. Regardless of the age of the person supplying alcohol, it is against the law to supply alcohol to a person under the age of 18 years without the permission of a parent or guardian.1 Juveniles (those under the age of 18 years) who supply alcohol to other juveniles without parental permission will be subject to the provisions of the Young Offenders Act 1994 (pers comms., WA Police, March 2019), and may be dealt with through alternative measures such as a caution or referred to a juvenile justice team.

Can an 18 year old supply alcohol to a 17 year old friend?

No. Only parents or guardians can give permission for others to supply alcohol to their child. Supplying alcohol to a young person under the age of 18 without parental permission carries a $10,000 penalty. 2

Can a 17 year olds parent give permission for an 18 year old friend to supply alcohol to the 17 year old?

Yes, provided permission is given by the 17 year olds parent or guardian.

If permission is given, the law requires the person supplying the alcohol to comply with responsible service requirements at all times. This includes:

  • Not supplying alcohol if the person supplying the alcohol is drunk.
  • Not supplying alcohol to the 17 year old if they are drunk.
  • Supervising the consumption of alcohol by the 17 year old at all times.

Not supplying alcohol to the 17 year old if at the time the permission was given, the parent or guardian was drunk.​

If I am an 18 year old adult, can I give permission for my friend to be supplied alcohol?

No. Only parents or guardians can give permission for others to supply alcohol to their child. Supplying alcohol to a young person under the age of 18 without parental permission carries a maximum $10,000 penalty. 4

I am hosting a gathering for my 17 year old daughter and her friends. One of my daughter’s friends told me her mother had given her permission to drink alcohol. Is it okay for me to give her a drink at my house?

No. You must obtain permission directly from your daughter’s friend’s parent or guardian.5 This is preferable to be in writing, but if not, you must be satisfied the person you have spoken with is the juvenile’s parent or guardian and they are not drunk when they give their consent. Without permission, you are liable for a penalty of up to $10,000.

The law now requires that if you are supplying alcohol to a person under 18 years old in your home you must observe responsible supervision practices at all times.6 This includes making sure these young people don’t get drunk (or you do not get drunk yourself) and that you are able to supervise their consumption of alcohol at all times.

If I am 18 years old, can I take alcohol in my car if I have 17 year old passengers?

Yes, provided the alcohol is not opened.

In the case of Leavers, it is possible your car may be searched by Police if you are driving to your leavers destination. If Police suspect the alcohol in your car is intended to be consumed by someone under the age of 18 years, they can confiscate the alcohol and you are liable for a $2,000 fine.

What happens if I get caught attempting to buy alcohol when I am underage, or with a fake ID?

If you are under the age of 18, it is illegal for you to purchase, or attempt to purchase alcohol.7 The service of alcohol can be refused if you are asked to provide ID and you can not or do not.

To buy alcohol, you must show identification that proves you are 18 years or older.

It is against the law to make a false statement, using fake or misleading identification regarding your age. The maximum penalty is $10,000 and the alcohol purchased can be confiscated or destroyed by Police.

Asking someone over the age of 18 to buy alcohol for you is also against the law.  The maximum penalty for you and the person intending to buy you alcohol is $10,000.

Alcohol laws – licensed premises and public places

The laws are different in each State or Territory regarding alcohol use by people under the age of 18. According to the Liquor Control Act 1988 in Western Australia:

  • It is an offence for anyone under the age of 18 years to enter or remain on licensed premises without a legal guardian or responsible adult except under specific circumstances outlined in the Liquor Control Act 1988.
  • It is an offence for anyone under the age of 18 years to purchase, attempt to purchase or obtain liquor from any other person on licensed or regulated premises. 8
  • It is against the law to sell or supply alcohol to anyone under the age of 18 years on licensed premises or regulated premises (such as a community hall holding an 18th birthday).9
  • It is an offence for anyone under the age of 18 years to consume alcohol or be in the possession of alcohol on licensed or regulated premises and it is an offence to allow that to occur.10
  • It is an offence in Western Australia for persons of any age to drink in public without a permit, such as on the street, park or beach.11
 
References

1 Liquor Control Act 1988,123(1) S122A p. 223

2 Liquor Control Act 1988,121(1) S122A p. 223

3 Liquor Control Act 1988,121(1) S122A p. 223

4Liquor Control Act 1988,119(1) p. 226

5Liquor Control Act 1988,119(1) S.121 p. 217

6Liquor Control Act 1988,119(1) S.121 p. 219

7Liquor Control Act 1988,119(1) p. 226

8Liquor Control Act 1988,119(1) p. 222

9Liquor Control Act 1988,119(1) p. 225

10Liquor Control Act 1988,119(1) p. 213

11Liquor Control Act 1988,119(1) p. 226

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