Drinkaware: What's the law around alcohol and young people?
Alcohol consumption in the UK is governed by strict laws
It is against the law:
– to sell alcohol to someone under 18 anywhere
– for an adult to buy or attempt to buy alcohol on behalf of someone under 18
– for someone under 18 to buy alcohol, attempt to buy alcohol or to be sold alcohol
“If young people get caught with alcohol three times they could face a social contract, a fine or arrest.”
– 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 the following cases, 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
– for children under five to drink alcohol at home or on private premises unless following a doctor’s advice for health reasons.
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 5 to 16 to drink alcohol at home or on other private premises. Parents can choose to give their child alcohol at home.
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. Getting a criminal record could affect future job prospects and make it more difficult to travel to countries like the USA.
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.