Is it legal to give alcohol to a minor?

by Ugur Nedim
Beer bottles

Section 117(4) of the Liquor Act makes it a criminal offence to supply alcohol to a minor.

The maximum penalty is 12 months imprisonment and/or an $11,000.00 fine.

However, it is a defence if:

(a) the alcohol is supplied by the minor’s parent or guardian, or

(b) if the person who supplied the alcohol was authorised to do so by the minor’s parent or guardian; sections 114(4) & (5).

This is sometimes called the ‘authorisation defence’.

This means that a minor can be supplied with alcohol at home or any other non-licensed place as long as the ‘supplier’ is an ‘authorised person’.

A person charged with supplying alcohol to a minor must, however, establish on the ‘balance of probabilities’ that he or she was the parent or guardian of the minor (or minors), or that the minor’s parent or guardian authorised the supply.

The Premier of NSW recently requested an inquiry into these laws, suggesting that they are uncertain and possibly against the interests of children.

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Ugur Nedim

Ugur Nedim is an Accredited Criminal Law Specialist with 24 years of experience as a Criminal Defence Lawyer. He is the Principal of Sydney Criminal Lawyers®.

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