Many of you are aware that selling alcohol to minors under the age of 18 is a crime. In NSW, Section 117 of the Liquor Act 2007 (NSW) states that the maximum penalty for selling liquor to a minor is $11,000 and/or 12 months imprisonment.

However, what happens if a minor is supplied with alcohol on private property?

Is it ok to supply the beer at your underage mate’s house?

Or is it ok to have a wine and cheese night with your girls under the age of 18?

The simple answer is NO.


It is illegal to supply alcohol to minors on licensed or unlicensed premises, including a family home. However, as the parent or guardian of a minor, you may be permitted to supply alcohol to your child at home so long as it is consistent with responsible supervision. This exception also applies to a person who has been authorised by the parent or guardian.


A parent or guardian (or authorised person) must consider the following factors to ensure responsible supervision:

– the age of the minor;

– whether the person supplying the alcohol is intoxicated;

– whether the minor is consuming the liquor with food;

– whether the minor’s consumption of liquor is being responsibly supervised by the person supplying the liquor; and

– the quantity of liquor and the period of time over which it is supplied.

For example, if it is clear that the minor is intoxicated, any further supply of alcohol from the parent or guardian is not responsible supervision. This concept is similar to a bar tender continuing to serve alcohol to patrons who are clearly intoxicated. In this event, the parent or guardian will face criminal charges with a maximum penalty of $11,000 and/or 12 months imprisonment.


The possession of alcohol by minors in a public place is a criminal offence under the Summary Offences Act 1988 (NSW). Pursuant to Section 11, a minor must not possess or consume alcohol in public spaces without the supervision of a responsible adult or without a reasonable excuse for possessing/consuming the alcohol.

For example, if you set up a barbeque or picnic in a local park, popping a bottle of champagne with friends who are under the age of 18 may constitute a criminal offence.

If it is suspected that a minor is in possession of alcohol in a public place, a police officer may confiscate the possessed liquor and issue a maximum fine of $20. During this process, police officers may ask that person to state his/her full name, residential address, and documentary evidence to identify whether he/she is 18 years of age. If a person fails to comply with these requests, a maximum fine of $20 may also apply. The minor may also be referred to the Your Choice’ program which discusses the legal and health consequences of alcohol consumption.

Persons must also consider how they are travelling home after consuming alcohol to ensure they are not drink driving. For more information on how to avoid a criminal conviction for drink driving in NSW, click here.


As stated above, a parent/guardian or authorised person are the only persons permitted to provide minors with alcohol on unlicensed premises. It is also noted that the law is silent on the minimum age of minors that are allowed to consume alcohol provided by their parents.

This area of law has raised significant debate on the effectiveness of parental control. On the one hand, parents may believe that they are controlling their child’s alcohol consumption by allowing them to drink at home. However, numerous studies have suggested that there is no evidence that confirms the link between parents who give their children alcohol and reducing the risk of binge drinking. In Western Australia, a survey conducted by Dr Tina Lam revealed that 25% of school leavers had been given alcohol from their parents. The study also revealed that two-thirds of that group continued to top up their alcohol consumption with other sources. These results are contrary to the intention of parents to exercise some level of control on their children’s consumption of alcohol.

Rather than facilitating alcohol consumption at home, parents are encouraged to discuss alcohol safety with minors. The purpose of these talks is to educate minors of the risks and consequences associated with consuming alcohol. It is also hoped that the nature of these talks with family members will provide a safe and comfortable context in which the child feels confident to express their concerns. Helpful tips that may be provided by parents include drinking water in between drinks and letting a friend know when a person feels like they have drunk too much. For further information on how parents can be a positive influence, refer to the DELAY 5 Point Plan introduced by DrinkWise Australia.

What are your thoughts on this debate?

Should parents be able to give their children alcohol at home?


Since the Liquor Act 2007 (NSW) repealed the former Liquor Act 1982 (NSW), effective amendments have been introduced. However, there is still potential for further law reform. Recommendations include amending the Liquor Act 2007 (NSW) to include a minimum age for children who can be supplied with alcohol by their parent/guardian.

We are interested to hear your thoughts on this matter. Click here to contact us.


If your friends are under the age of 18, it is important that you think twice before bringing alcohol to your next barbeque or wine and cheese night. If you are not a parent/guardian, or have not been authorised by a parent/guardian, then you may face criminal charges for supplying alcohol to a minor.

It is also encouraged that you share your knowledge on this topic to your friends and family. It is essential that minors are educated and made aware of the risks associated with alcohol consumption. A key factor in developing their understanding is the influences that surround them. As many of us have experienced, transitioning from teenage years to adulthood can be extremely difficult. With this in mind, it is encouraged that friends and family members ask this question – How can I make sure that I am a positive influence on the next generation?


If you have been charged with suppling alcohol to a minor, or you have been charged with possession of alcohol as a minor, click here to contact National Criminal Lawyers. Our dedicated team will discuss the charges with you and provide further information on your matter.

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