Alcohol – laws and penalties

Excessive and inappropriate consumption of alcohol is a significant contributor to social harm in New Zealand.

Alcohol is the most common recreational drug in New Zealand, and a significant proportion of police work involves responding to alcohol-related incidents. This includes violent offending, homicides, drink-driving, family violence, ensuring the safety of intoxicated people or those around them.

On an 'average' day in New Zealand:

  • 72 Alleged offenders detected for drink driving offences
  • 4,400  breath tests are undertaken
  • 82  licensed premises are visited by police to monitor compliance with the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012.

Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012

The Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 covers the safe and responsible sale, supply, and consumption of alcohol and the minimisation of harm caused by its excessive or inappropriate use.

If you are 18 years or older you can enter any licensed premises and buy and drink alcohol, as long as you can provide acceptable proof of age identification such as a driver licence, Hospitality New Zealand (HANZ) 18+ card or passport.

If you are under 18 years old and with a legal parent or guardian you can:

  • drink alcohol in a supervised area where meals are served (such as a restaurant or family lounge bar) but only if it is provided by the parent or guardian with you.

If you are under 18 years old and with a legal parent or guardian you can't:

  • enter a restricted area of any licensed premises
  • buy alcohol in a supervised area

'Legal guardian' means someone who has been appointed by the Court to be a legal guardian. The term does not include other family members such as grandparents, uncles, aunts, older brothers or sisters, spouses or partners. It also does not include sports coaches or any other temporary supervisor.

If you are under 18 years old and not with a legal parent or guardian you can't:

  • drink in a public space
  • go into pubs and bars
  • buy alcohol or have an adult buy it for you
  • carry a fake ID or use someone else's.

For more details of the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012 visit Health Promotion Agency website.

Alcohol offences Amount (NZ$)
Buying alcohol underage $250
Presenting false evidence of age $250
Being in a restricted or supervised area underage $250
Anyone under 18 found drinking in a public place not accompanied by parent or guardian $200
Breaching a Local Alcohol Ban $250

 

It is an offence to supply a minor (a person of 17 years of age, or younger) with alcohol.

If you are the parent or legal guardian of a minor, and you wish to supply them with alcohol, it must be done in a safe and reasonable manner.  Failure to do so is punishable by a fine of $2000.