"reducing alcohol and drug related harm in our communities"
Key Information


Alcohol and You Services
Alcohol and You Services
A website with on-line tools to examine alcohol use and referral to support services
Steps to Change
Steps to Change
Early intervention for adults and family members affected by substance use in WHSCT
ASCERT Alcohol Services
ASCERT Alcohol Services
Support for concerns about a persons alcohol use and services for family members
Alcohol and The Law

Alcohol and The Law

Drinking & the Law

The Law around alcohol can be very confusing, especially as the Laws that govern the rest of the UK do not apply to us. Northern Ireland is unique in that we have the NI Childrens and Young Persons act www.legislation.gov.uk

Licensed premises

Basically anywhere that sells alcohol needs a licence to do so; it's a criminal offence to sell alcohol without one. The law splits places that sell alcohol into three groups:

  • Places such as pubs, clubs, hotel bars etc are licensed to sell alcohol to be consumed on and off the premises;
  • Shops that sell alcohol only for drinking away from the premises.  That's why they are called "off-licences".
  • Temporary licences are available for things like music and beer festivals, but these will be classed the same as pubs and clubs.

Under age

It's illegal to:

  • Sell alcohol to anyone under 18, or to someone you suspect is buying on behalf of someone under 18. 
  • Buy or attempt to buy alcohol if you are under 18. You're also breaking the law if you drink alcohol on licensed premises if you are underage.
  • In Northern Ireland it's illegal to be in a pub under the age of 18 either unaccompanied, or if it does not have a Children's Certificate or it is after 9pm.

There are currently plans to give police legal powers to confiscate alcohol from under-18s drinking in public. Currently they can only do this if they believe a young person or group of young people have been involved in alcohol-related crime or disorder.

Drinking in public

Currently it isn't illegal to drink in public. However many areas have alcohol-free zones that target town centres and/or residential areas where there is a particular issue with drinking in public.

Some parks and other places have similar bans; including public transport. It is an offence to refuse to hand over alcohol to a police officer who believes you are drinking in these areas. Being drunk and disorderly in a public place is illegal;

Drinking in pubs

The licensee of a premises has discretion over who they allow into their pub (although they are bound by discrimination laws). You don't have any rights to get served.

Drink driving

Driving with more than 35 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath is a criminal offence, as is failing to give a sample.

23 Bridge Street,
Co. Antrim
BT28 1XZ

Tel: 0800 2545 123
Fax: 028 9260 3874
Email: info@ascert.biz
Charity Number: NIC101239