There are a number of laws around alcohol and under 18’s; a person under the age of 18 commits an offence if they buy or attempt to buy alcohol unless they are doing so in the course of them being used in a test purchase operation. Example:
- a 17 year old walks into a shop and picks up some cans of beer and attempts to buy them at the till – this is an offence
A person who acts as an agent for someone under the age of 18 and buys or attempts to buy alcohol on behalf of the under 18 commits an offence. As does a person who acts as an agent for someone under 18 and buys or attempts to buy alcohol for them to consume on licensed premises. Example:
- a person aged 30 years walks passed a group of young people outside a shop, a person 17 years offers him money to buy beer for him and his mates. The person grabs the money and indeed buys beer and hands it to them – commits an offence.
- 18 year old sat with a group of friends of mixed ages including under 18’s in a licensed premise goes to the bar and buys a round of drinks, all of which are alcoholic – this is an offence.
The exception to all of this is:
- when someone is over 18 years old is in the company of someone aged 16 or 17 and they buy beer, wine or cider if they are eating a table meal together in licensed premises.
- it is not illegal for a child aged 5 to 16 years to drink alcohol at home or on other private premises .
There are fines for selling or buying alcohol for under 18’s and for those that are under 18 years who buy or try to buy.