Is it true that the police will confiscate alcohol from someone who is under 18?
Yes, if anyone under 18 is in a public place, like a park or on the beach, the police will take away any alcohol opened or unopened that they have with them. The police will probably take the young person home and interview their parents and may choose to let their school know.
Is it ok for someone under 18 to ask an adult (18+) to buy alcohol for them?
If anyone underage asks a friend who is 18 or over to buy alcohol for them, the older person would risk having a fine and a caution from the police. This is called buying by proxy – so they’d be asking their friend to break the law.
Can a young person under 18 drink at home with their parents?
The laws around buying and being served alcohol for under 18s cover being in a pub, club, restaurant, buying on line or from a shop or drinking in a public place. In the home, parents and carers are thought to be the best judges of when it might be Ok for a young person to try alcohol. The Chief Medical Officer says that an alcohol free childhood is best before the age of 15 as teenagers’ livers and brains are not fully developed yet.
I thought it’s ok to have a glass of wine with a meal once someone’s 16?
It’s true if a young person is 16+, with an adult and sitting down with a plated meal – they can have a glass of wine, beer or cider – but only if the landlord is happy – it’s his choice, but it is legal.
What’s the law around drink driving?
Because alcohol slows down a drinker’s reactions and judgements, there is a strict limit as to how much a person is allowed to drink if they drive. How quickly someone’s blood alcohol concentration (what is measured by the police in a breath test) rises depends on their age, if they are male or female, whether they’ve eaten, their size and metabolism. The best advice is always not to drink alcohol at all if planning to drive – anyone would be very popular with their mates if they’re the non-drinking driver ! Otherwise it’s best to find out about buses, have details of a taxi firm or ask arrange a lift for the end of the evening. Think about the next morning too – if someone’s been drinking the night before they could still be over the limit if they’ve drunk a lot.
Are the laws around alcohol similar in other countries?
Nearly all countries have a legal drinking age of at least age 18 – in the USA it’s age 21! Drink drive laws are even stricter in most other countries and in some countries drinking alcohol at all is against the law – so do check before you travel or hire a car.
It’s very confusing about teenage parties – I know they drink alcohol, so aren’t they breaking the law?
The law around underage drinking at parties is confusing. Parents should think very seriously if they provide alcohol to other young people without their parents’ permission, if something went wrong, or if there was an accident there would be trouble. There are lots of other things to do instead – go bowling, go out for a pizza, a movie night or just hang out with mates!