No minors allowed sign

Underage Drinking: What Australian Restaurants Need To Know

No minors allowed sign

In Australia, it is illegal to sell alcohol to anyone under 18 years old. Hospitality workers must know their legal responsibilities and understand the Responsible Service of Alcohol laws (RSA), which states that it is prohibited to sell alcohol to minors and introduces how to prevent underage sales from happening in the workplace.

In this blog post, we will discuss who is considered a minor, how alcohol affects minors, and the main offenses when selling alcohol to minors. We will also explain when to ask for proof of age, what staff should look for when checking IDs, and some examples of fake IDs.

So whether you're an owner or manager of a licensed premise, or you work in the hospitality industry and want to know more about preventing underage sales, keep reading!

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The Dangers of Alcohol Use in Young People

The legal drinking age in Australia is 18. Any person below this age is considered underage and not allowed to purchase or consume alcohol.

Underage drinking can lead to problems such as alcohol poisoning, brain damage, and risky behavior, so restaurant owners and staff need to know how to prevent underage drinking in their establishments.

Alcohol can cause brain damage to young people from the age of 25. This includes the brain's areas that affect attention, memory, and decision-making. Drinking alcohol during these stages of development can increase the risk of the following illnesses:

  • Mental health problems
  • Addiction
  • Violence and accidents
  • Poor school or work performance

What is the Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA)?

RSA is a set of guidelines that aim to reduce the harmful effects of alcohol consumption. The Responsible Service of Alcohol laws state that it is illegal to sell, supply, or give alcohol to minors. These laws also apply to offering free drinks or happy hour specials.

The penalties for breaking RSA laws can be severe, including fines, imprisonment, or losing your liquor license. Here are the main offenses when it comes to peddling alcoholic drinks to minors:

  • Selling or supplying alcohol to a minor
  • Serving alcohol to a minor
  • Purchasing alcohol on behalf of a minor
  • Allowing a minor to consume alcohol on licensed premises

Tips to Stop Alcohol Sales to Minors in Your Business

A bouncer checking the IDs of patrons

No business owner wants to find themselves in the middle of a legal dispute over underage drinking. It's important to know how to prevent it in your restaurant and protect yourself if an issue arises.

Check IDs for Proof of Age

Hospitality workers need to be vigilant in preventing underage sales from occurring in their workplace. Here are a few key things to look out for:

  • Asking customers for ID when they appear to be under 25 years old
  • Checking IDs carefully to ensure they are valid
  • Asking for ID even if the customer looks over 25
  • Knowing what types of IDs are acceptable in your state

Common Signs of Minors Trying to Buy Alcohol Illegally

If you suspect someone is trying to purchase alcohol underage, the best thing to do is ask for their ID. Do not serve them if they refuse or cannot produce a valid ID. Here are some signs that an underage may be trying to buy alcohol:

  • Having an expired or fake ID
  • Carrying a fake ID that belongs to someone else
  • Trying to use someone else's ID
  • They are reluctant to show their ID

According to Australian law, anyone caught with a fake ID will be prosecuted and have their ID confiscated.

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List of Acceptable IDs

Knowing what types of IDs are acceptable in your state is also essential. In most cases, you can accept a driver's license, passport, or proof of age card. However, it is always best to check with your local liquor authority.

Hospitality workers can protect themselves from being held liable if an underage sale does occur by taking preventive measures. Such measures include checking IDs carefully and refusing to serve anyone who cannot produce a valid ID. Additionally, it is crucial to know your state's RSA laws and follow them strictly.

This video from Galaxy Training Australia explains:

  • A responsible manager must ensure that minors or underage persons don't enter a licensed venue
  • Appropriate Signage
  • How to check ID - proof of age, identify fake ID
  • Acceptable forms of IDs

The Definition of a 'Responsible Adult'

The following persons can all be called responsible adults for a minor:

  • A minor's parent, step-parent, or guardian
  • A person who has legal rights and responsibilities over the minor

Serving Alcohol in Queensland as a Minor

Some states/territories allow minors to be employed in licensed premises, such as restaurants or stores that sell alcohol. They must always have direct supervision and cannot be placed in a responsible position in a licensed area.

Generally, restrictions are applied and limits on the number of hours per week, duration, and areas within which the minors may work.

Underage Drinking in Australia FAQ

A woman refusing a glass of alcoholic drink

This section will answer some of the most common questions surrounding how you can protect yourself and your business from being caught up with under-aged drinkers.

Can you drink alcohol at 16 in Australia?

No, the legal drinking age in Australia is 18. This means young people under this age should not be served alcohol in restaurants or bars.

What happens if you get caught drinking under 18 in Australia?

Underage drinking is illegal in Australia. There are severe penalties for those who provide alcohol to minors and those who consume it. 

Under Australian government law, the maximum penalty for providing or procuring liquor to a person under 18 is an $11,000 fine or 12 months imprisonment. And if the person is found guilty of consuming alcohol while underage, the maximum penalty is a $2,200 fine by a court.

What is secondary supply?

Secondary supply is the illegal provision of alcohol to minors by someone other than a parent or guardian. It’s an important issue in Australia, as it contributes significantly to underage drinking and the potential health risks associated with it.

For example, Australian adolescents are more likely to consume alcohol at harmful levels if they have access to alcohol from friends or other adults.

Visit this page to check the penalties and fines for selling alcohol to minors.


Restaurateurs and bar owners must be aware of how they can legally prevent minors from accessing alcohol on their premises.

One way is through effective age verification measures – ensure all staff members asking for ID cards are trained to spot fake IDs. You may also consider placing signage around your venue reminding customers that it is illegal to purchase or consume alcohol if they are under 18 years old.

So there you have it – everything Australian restaurateurs need to know about underage drinking and the law. We hope you found this post helpful!

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