Penalties for allowing minors on premises and under-age drinking
As a liquor licensee you are responsible for the actions of your employees. When an employee commits particular offences, you are presumed to have participated in the offence. This means that both you (as the licensee) and the staff member may be liable and fined.
For example, if a minor is on the premises, each of the following people may have committed an offence:
- the licensee or permit holder
- the person in control of the premises (if separate from the licensee or permit holder)
- the employee or agent that allowed the minor to enter the premises (if applicable).
The only defences for allowing a non-exempt minor onto licensed premises are if:
- the minor entered without the licensee's knowledge and authority (e.g. they snuck in), and the licensee exercised due diligence to avoid them committing the offence
- the licensee honestly and reasonably believed the person was 18 or older, or sighted acceptable evidence of age indicating the person was 18 years of age or older.
Compliance officers can issue on-the-spot fines under the Liquor Act 1992.
Sections 155–157 of the Liquor Act specifically relate to minors.
Sections 36–38 of the Wine Industry Act 1994 relate to fineable offences regarding minors.
Read a full list of fines and penalties for liquor licensees.
Licensees and staff can be prosecuted and fined up to $13,785 if non-exempt minors are found on licensed premises. Prosecution for supplying alcohol to a minor on licensed premises can result in penalties of up to $34,462 for a licensee or approved manager and $11,028 for a bar attendant or individual.
How to prevent prosecution
The best ways for you and your staff to avoid prosecution is to:
- ensure minors are not on the premises (unless there is an exemption)
- train all new and existing staff
- regularly remind all staff that minors are not generally permitted by law in licensed premises, and that if they knowingly allow a minor to enter, they can be fined
- ensure all management and staff ask for proof of age
- ensure identification (ID) checking and responsible service of alcohol signage is clearly displayed at entry and exit points, and throughout the premises
- document all training and keep records to demonstrate due diligence.
Under the Liquor Act, a liquor licence will be suspended if, within a 2-year period, 2 convictions are recorded against a licensee for any combination of the following offences:
- section 155(3A) – licensee/manager failing to ensure minor not on premises
- section 156(1) – allowing liquor to be consumed by a minor on licensed premises – licensee/permit holder/manager
- section 156(2) – supplying liquor to a minor in a public place.
In this case, the licence that relates to the premises on or from which the latest of the offences was committed (if it is still held by or under the control of the licence holder), is suspended.
Most expensive drink campaign
The Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (OLGR) encourages licensees to actively support the 'Most expensive drink' alcohol harm minimisation campaign. This campaign aims to educate adults about irresponsibly supplying alcohol to under 18s. The Most expensive drink sign and LCD screen images are available for you to download and use in your bottle shop and licensed venue.
- Download printable compliance signage for licensed venues.
- Read Guideline 11: Under-age events and all ages events.
- Read OLGR's Liquor Compliance Strategy.
- Contact the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation.
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