Alcohol and young people
You can be stopped, fined or arrested by police if you’re under 18 and drinking alcohol in public.
If you’re under 18, it’s against the law:
- for someone to sell you alcohol
- to buy or try to buy alcohol
- for an adult to buy or try to buy alcohol for you
- to drink alcohol in licensed premises (eg a pub or restaurant)
However, if you’re 16 or 17 and accompanied by an adult, you can drink (but not buy) beer, wine or cider with a meal.
If you’re 16 or under, you may be able to go to a pub (or premises primarily used to sell alcohol) if you’re accompanied by an adult. However, this isn’t always the case. It can also depend on the specific conditions for that premises.
It’s illegal to give alcohol to children under 5.
Working in a restaurant or bar under 18
You can serve alcohol in a restaurant if you’re 16 or 17 as long as the alcohol is drunk with a meal. You can also serve alcohol in a bar, but the licence holder or bar manager needs to approve every sale.
You may be restricted to selling alcohol in sealed containers (eg cans or bottles) in some areas.