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Alcohol and the Law

It is against the law for a young person under 18 to:

It is against the law for a young person under 15 to be in a pub without a parent or guardian.

A young person between 15 and 17 can attend a private function, such as a wedding, in a pub after the times above if a proper meal is being served.

It is also against the law for an adult to buy alcohol for a young person under the age of 18. The penalty is a maximum fine of €1500.

The information below should be helpful, as many parents are unsure of the law on underage drinking and what happens if this law is broken.

Juvenile Diversion Programme

Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994
Intoxicating Liquor Act 1988 (Part IV provisions relating to persons under 18 years) Source: HSE website,

An Garda Síochána National Age Card

The Gardaí operate the National Age Card Scheme. These cards are proof that the cardholder is 18 or over. Anyone found guilty of forging or altering the details of an official Age Card can be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding €1,270 or to a prison term not exceeding 12 months, or both.

Draft legislation currently before the Oireachtas proposes that it will be an offence to possess a forged or altered Garda National Age Card - with the intent to deceive. If this law is enacted, a fine of up to €3,000 or 12 months imprisonment will apply in the event of conviction for such an offence.

See our article on talking to your children about drink