Alcohol and the Law
Buying alcohol for yourself
It is against the law for anyone under the age of 18 to buy alcohol – whether in a pub, shop, bar or club
No ID no sale
Even if you are over 18 and you don’t have Id, shopkeepers and licensed premises can refuse to serve you if you look younger.
Buying alcohol for someone else
It is against the law for someone over the age of 18 to knowingly buy alcohol for someone under age – this is called buying by proxy. They could face a fine and police caution.
Drinking and driving
It’s against the law for an adult to drive with more than 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of their blood (50mg per 100ml in Scotland). If they break the law, they could face a fine of £5,000, six months in prison and having their license taken away for at least a year. Causing death through drink-driving can result in a maximum prison sentence of 14 years and a two-year driving ban.
Consuming alcohol in pubs and restaurants
You cannot buy or be served alcohol if you are under 18 – the only exception is if you are with adults having a plated meal when you can have beer, wine or cider if the adults and landlord agree.
Underage drinking in public places
Police have the powers to confiscate alcohol from under 18s drinking in public spaces (e.g. on the street or in parks).
Alcohol restriction zones
It is an arrestable offence to fail to comply with a police officer’s request not to drink alcohol in a designated Alcohol Restricted Area. The police also have the power to take away and dispose of any alcohol and containers in a person’s possession.
Download a PDF copy of this document: Alcohol and the Law (full), or Alcohol and the Law (simplified)
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