Schoolies Week & Alcohol: What Does the Law Say?

Portrait of group of friends toasting with bottles of beer.

At the commencement of every Schoolies Week there is the inevitable footage of police confiscating alcohol purchased for or on behalf of underage schoolies.  There is the long and lasting debate over what is and is not acceptable behaviour by both schoolies and the parents that “supply” them with alcohol.  What is of some concern is the lack of understanding as to what the law permits.

Purchase of Alcohol by Minors.

The law is very clear in relation to the sale of Liquor to a minor.  Section 155A of the Liquor Act 1992 relevently provides that: A person must not sell liquor to a minor.

Maximum penalty—

  1.  if the person is the licensee or permittee of, or an approved manager working at, the premises to which a licence or permit relates—250 penalty units; or
  2. in any other case—80 penalty units.

Section 156 further provides that:  A person must not, on premises to which a licence or permit relates—

  1. supply liquor to; or
  2. permit or allow liquor to be supplied to; or
  3. allow liquor to be consumed by;

a person who—

  •  is a minor; or
  • is unduly intoxicated or disorderly.

People in night club. Dancing, drinking and having funMinors on licensed Premises.

Section 155 of the Liquor Act provides that in relation to all but exempt minors, a  licensee, permittee or person in control of the premises to which the licence or permit relates must ensure that a minor is not on the premises.

Alcohol in a private place.

Parents and friends who supply minors with alcohol for their schoolies week celebrations face significant fines of up to $9,424.00.  The prohibition is on the “unsupervised consumption” of alcohol in a private place.

  1. An adult must not supply liquor to a minor at a private place, unless the adult is a responsible adult for the minor.
  2. A responsible adult for a minor must not supply liquor to the minor at a private place, unless the supply is consistent with the responsible supervision of the minor.
  3. In considering whether the supply is consistent with the responsible supervision of the minor, relevant factors include the following
  • (a)  whether the adult is unduly intoxicated
  • (b)  whether the minor is unduly intoxicated;
  • (c)  the age of the minor;
  • (d)  whether the minor is consuming the liquor supplied with food;
  • (e)  whether the adult is responsibly supervising the minor’s consumption of the liquor supplied;
  • (f)  the quantity of liquor supplied and the period over which it was supplied.

A celebratory drink is permitted so long as the minor is supervised and is not intoxicated.  There is also a requirement that the parent is in a condition to supervise.  The Liquor Act provides that a person is intoxicated when a persons, speech, balance, coordination or behaviour is affected and there are reasonable grounds for believing the affected speech, balance, coordination or behaviour is the result of the consumption of liquor, drugs or another intoxicating substance

The same rules apply to schoolies who are of the legal drinking age and supply alcohol to their underage mates.

Last year during schoolies police and liquor licensing officials issued a number of fines including:

  • 200 for minors for possessing alcohol in a public place;
  • 113 to adults for consuming alcohol in a public place; and
  • 79 to minors falsely representing themselves as over 18 years of age.