My friend Elisa and I have talked about the issue of teenage drinking on more than one occasion. Almost exactly a year ago, the BA was wanting to go to a local beach with her friends for New Year's Eve fireworks and carousing. There was discussion of alcohol. At the time she was 15 and there was no WAY I was condoning any bending of the no-drinking rules. The event passed without incident and I breathed a sigh of relief.
In May of this year (was it only this year???), the Formal and it's 'after party' reared its ugly head. For a brief moment I considered hosting the after party, providing a DJ, putting up lights and a dance floor, making party pies and sausage rolls.......
Then came the question of alcohol.
I thought my immediate 'no' response would be that of any sane parent but I was sadly mistaken. Tales of the previous year's after party complete with security guards, a cloak room for checking in bags so nothing could be smuggled in, fending off gate crashers, and wrist bands entitling the guests to 2 alcoholic drinks, changed the way I viewed the world. Such parties did not occur in my day!!
At a meeting with the girls organising the event, I explained that I would provide everything they needed for a party except alcohol. They thanked me for my interest and found another parent who would!
In the angst and stress that went with this whole experience, I read up on a whole lot of legal information and was surprised to find this:
Where can a minor legally drink alcohol?*
- At their own home or someone else's - regardless of whether an adult legal guardian or spouse is present.
- In public places that are neither licensed premises, regulated premises nor dry areas (e.g. a family barbecue in a public area such as a park) provided they are in the company of an adult legal guardian or spouse.
Where can a minor NOT legally drink alcohol?*
- In regulated premises including licensed premises (e.g. a restaurant, hotel, premises with a limited licence or reception centre) - a minor may be present at these venues (before midnight, or before 9.00 p.m. at premises with an entertainment venue licence), but may not buy or drink alcohol.
- In a public place unless in the company of an adult legal guardian or spouse.
*These explanations for where a minor can and cannot legally drink alcohol also include possession of alcohol.
It is illegal for anyone, regardless of age, to drink alcohol in non-licensed regulated premises, such as a public hall, shop, vehicle or vessel, and other specified premises such as dry areas. Therefore, the only additional restrictions on minors are that they are not allowed to drink in licensed premises, or unaccompanied in a public place.
In summary, minors:
- can consume alcohol provided it is not in a public place or regulated premises
- can consume alcohol in a public place under the supervision of an adult legal guardian or spouse provided that it is not a dry area, regulated premises or in or near to prescribed entertainment such as a dance
- can generally be on licensed premises before midnight (before 9.00 p.m. in an entertainment venue) but cannot obtain or consume alcohol
- are not allowed in areas of licensed premises declared out of bounds to minors, or in gaming areas
- are not allowed on licensed premises between the hours of midnight and 5.00 a.m. unless in a designated dining area, a bedroom or an area approved for minors
- If at the clubrooms, a football coach gives the team some beers to celebrate a win, and some of the team are under 18, that is an offence (supplying liquor to a minor in regulated premises, section 110 & 114 of the Act). However, it would not be illegal for the coach to invite the team to his home for drinks.
- At a wedding reception held in a licensed restaurant, a hotel, a wedding reception centre or public hall, it is illegal if a minor drinks a toast containing alcohol to the bride and groom (selling/supplying alcohol to minors, sections 110 & 114 of the Act).
In July of this year, someone tried to do something about it: but as far as I know there has been no change to the law.
The BA is going to continue to be confronted with opportunities to drink to excess. In a recent conversation I pointed out to her, "It is not about me trying to control you, it is about you remaining in control of yourself."