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Alcohol, tobacco products, e-cigarettes and other drugs


If a child is sold or given liquor on licensed premises, both the child and the licensee, the responsible person, and any other person who supplies the child, have committed an offence.

Maximum penalty

For a first offence by a licensee or responsible person: $20 000

For a second or subsequent offence by a licensee or responsible person: $40 000

Any other person who sells or supplies: $5 000

Expiation fee $1 200

Liquor can be supplied at meals in the presence of a child but cannot be served to the child. Children cannot enter or remain on premises where a late night permit or an entertainment venue licence is in place or licensed areas which are declared out of bounds to minors [Liquor Licensing Act 1997 (SA) s 112]. In these situations, a sign should be displayed prohibiting access to minors.

It is illegal for minors to consume alcohol in any public place (unlicensed) unless they are with a parent or guardian, or their parent or guardian has given a responsible adult permission and the minor is responsibly supervised. However, if a public area is designated as a 'dry zone' it is against the law for anyone to drink there.

Private Parties

Parents hosting a party for teenagers need to be aware of any insurance and legal implications of serving alcohol to teenagers. At a party in a private house, it is an offence to supply children with alcohol unless the person supplying the adult is a responsible adult or is an authorised adult who has the permission from a responsible adult, and that supply is consistent with the responsible supervision of the child [Liquor Licensing Act 1997 (SA) s 110A(1) , s 110A(4)] . A responsible adult is an adult who is the parent of the child, someone standing in the position or having the responsibilities of a parent, or the spouse or domestic partner of the child [s 110A(1)]. Responsible supervision includes consideration about the age of the child, whether the adult is intoxicated, whether the child is intoxicated, and the quantity and type of alcohol provided [s 110A(5)].

There are now high penalties, $10 000 Maximum Penalty, or a $500 Expiation Notice for this offence if these conditions are not met.

If no parents or responsible adults are present then there can be other long-reaching implications for any consequences that arise as a result of the teenagers’ alcohol consumption. For example, if there is an injury or property damage a lack of supervision will be a factor in establishing negligence. As with any person inviting others onto their property, a duty of care exists for the occupier (host) to take measures to avoid any reasonably foreseeable harm to those invited. With the popularity of social networking gate-crashing of teenage parties has become a new phenomenon and a duty of care can extend to trespassers under s 20(6) of the Civil Liability Act 1936 (SA). Despite not being invited onto the premises, there may still be a duty of care if they are exposed to danger that was reasonably foreseeable and no action was taken by the occupier to avoid it. For this reason it is essential to have a plan in place to deal with emergencies.

See also Gatecrashing - trespassing at private parties and our Young People and Parties Factsheet.

Under the Public Intoxication Act 1984 (SA) the police can apprehend anyone (including a child) if they believe he or she is under the influence of alcohol and by reason of that fact is unable to take proper care of themselves. The police can then take him or her home or to a police station or sobering up centre. Where reasonably possible, the parents or guardians of a child who is detained should be contacted and special arrangements should be made to keep the child away from contact with adults who are detained at the same place [ss 6,7].

See further our Alcohol and the Law Factsheet.

Tobacco products and e-cigarettes

It is an offence to sell or supply a tobacco product or an e-cigarette product to a person under 18 years [Tobacco and E-Cigarette Products Act 1997 (SA) s 38A].

Maximum Penalty

For a first offence by a proprietor of the business: $20 000

For a second or subsequent offence by a proprietor of the business: $40 000

For any other person responsible for selling or supplying on behalf of the proprietor: $5 000

Expiation fee $1 200

A customer who is suspected of being under 18 years old may be requested to show proof of their age [s 39], and it is offence to refuse or give a false statement or identification [s 39(2)].

Maximum Penalty

Fine up to $750

Expiation fee of $105

See further our Cigarettes and the Law Factsheet.

Other drugs

Under the Controlled Substances Act 1984 (SA) it is an offence to consume, possess, manufacture, sell or supply any controlled (an unlawful) drug. There are many other offences about the use and manufacture of drugs and even synthetic drugs and drug alternatives see more in the section on Drug Offences.

Young offenders are dealt with differently to adults with regards to drug offences and possible sentencing options exist include informal or formal police cautions or Family Conferences (see Young offenders). However, the option of an expiation notice for a simple cannabis possession offence does not apply [s 45A(2)].

Drug offences committed against children are taken very seriously and extremely heavy penalties can apply. The sale, supply or administration of a controlled drug to a child or in a school zone attracts a maximum penalty of $1 000 000 or life imprisonment or both [Controlled Substances Act 1984 (SA) ss 33F and 33G].

See further our Drugs and the Law Factsheet.

Alcohol, tobacco products, e-cigarettes and other drugs  :  Last Revised: Fri Dec 13th 2019
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.