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Can an adult be arrested for buying beer for 17 year olds which they will drink under the adult's supervision?
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Can an adult be arrested for buying beer for 17 year olds which they will drink under the adult's supervision?

I was working voluntarily on a theatre project with a group of young people. The theatre complex has a bar.
I was rehearsing late on a Friday evening with a small group of 17 year olds. After working hard, I needed a beer and the young people asked me if they could also have some. After deliberating for a while, I thought that it was probably OK, because I was with them and we were on our own in the performance space and not in the bar, therefore not exactly in a public space, although other people could walk in. I bought them the equivalent of half a lager each. Just at the moment that I arrived with the beer, the lighting designer, who also happens to be a policeman, came into the theatre, told us all in no uncertain terms that we were behaving illegally and removed the beer. I was extremely embarrassed and worried that he was going to arrest me. But exactly how illegal was my behaviour and could he have put the cuffs on me?


Paul R
Clearly a lot of the answers here have come from Americans whose laws are totally different from ours. (THIS IS IN THE UK AND IRELAND SECTION FOLKS!)

It really all boils down to whether the performance space can be considered a private area. If it could then what you did was perfectly legal, however I suspect that (in law at least) it would be deemed as a public area.

it is not an offence to buy a drink for a 16 or 17 year-old in conjunction with a table meal in a restaurant as long as the meal is not in the bar area. Similarly, 16 or 17 year-old can purchase a drink in a restaurant with a table meal perfectly legally.

It is only illegal for those aged 5-17 to drink alcohol on licensed premises (e.g. a pub or restaurant); they may legally drink alcohol in private.

I suspect that the area you were in would be considered to be part of the licensed premises, so as the young people had not had the drinks as part of a meal, you were technically in the wrong.

It's quite a confusing situation, but hopefully you'll be sure of the rules in future.... maybe get them a bag of chips too ;)

Yes. It is as illegal to supply alcohol to underage drinkers as it is for the underage drinkers to drink it.

In UK if you purchase alcohol in a bar for consumption for persons under 18 years it is an offence.Contrary to what others say here it is not an offence to drink under 18 years off licensed premises ,if for instance drinking at home the minimum age is 5 years old.At 16 years in a restaurant a 16 year old can purchase certain alcoholic drinks with a meal - cider,porter,fortified wine and perry.


Pat N
Yes you could have been arrested and charged for buying the beer for under aged drinkers to consume in a public place. If it had been drank in the own homes under the supervision of parents or guardian then that would have been legal. The penalties can be high. ps Don't buy tobacco products for the under 18's either. The same rules apply.

Yes, you can be arrested for contributing and if there were 10 teenagers at 17 years old, you could be charge 10 times. The Lighting Designer(Policeman) did you a big favor. He should have arrested you, but being he was off duty, he mainly disciplined you. Think about it next time. You were Lucky.

Ian UK
The offence is supplying alcohol to persons under the age of 18.

I'm not lecturing as it appears that you had good intentions by rewarding hard working individuals however the law is there for a reason and maybe a more appropriate reward could have been given.

The Police officer could have arrested you but there would have had to have been a very good reason to do so. If he had wanted to take any action against you then he could have reported you for summons.

As it was, he used his discretion as I would have done in the same situation. The licensee of the bar could also have got into trouble if underage drinking was occurring on his/her premises.

Hope this helps.

Yes you can be in trouble for providing under 18s with booze. All one of them has to do is tell mummy and you can be in it up to your neck.

Well 18's the limit, so yes.

Derrrr, whats the legal age for drinking alcohol?
Mega fail on your part, and I doubt if you will be trusted to work with kids again!

yes.it's called contributing to the delinquency of a minor.a class c felony in my state.

In my state Yes.*

A lot of people here have got this wrong.
This is a debatable point if it wasn't a public place. In the UK it is illegal to give alcohol to anyone under 5 years old. Parents can quite lawfully give their children a beer ,but probably not in a public bar as its against licensing laws.
Your mistake was buying from a public bar and that they're not your children so there was no parental consent.
The police are very often wrong about what is lawfull and what is not. When they go off on one its usually based on their own beliefs and self importance. In the UK it seems very over the top to make a big deal over 17 year olds having a half a beer, you know full well that their parents wouldn't have blinked an eye at this and they (the kids)all probably spend their weekends in bars anyway.
Technically the policeman was right as you purchased alcohol from a public bar and supplied it to minors who weren't yours, but it was very over the top to remove the beer when he could have jokingly advised you it was wrong.

Gosh - you really are a good role model

supplying them with alcohol at 17 is an offence
and is no different to buying it for them at a supermrket

adult supervision has nothing to do with it

maybe their parents will sue you

Yes. Kids under the age of 21 cannot drink. Period. Adults who give them alcohol will get a big fine, and possibly community service.

It is Illegal NY. The law reads like this:

§ 260.20 Unlawfully dealing with a child in the first degree.
A person is guilty of unlawfully dealing with a child in the first
degree when:

He gives or sells or causes to be given or sold any alcoholic
beverage, as defined by section three of the alcoholic beverage control
law, to a person less than twenty-one years old; except that this
subdivision does not apply to the parent or guardian of such a person or
to a person who gives or causes to be given any such alcoholic beverage
to a person under the age of twenty-one years, who is a student in a
curriculum licensed or registered by the state education department,
where the tasting or imbibing of alcoholic beverages is required in
courses that are part of the required curriculum, provided such
alcoholic beverages are given only for instructional purposes during
classes conducted pursuant to such curriculum.
It is no defense to a prosecution pursuant to subdivision two of this
section that the child acted as the agent or representative of another
person or that the defendant dealt with the child as such.
Unlawfully dealing with a child in the first degree is a class A

Thank God for police off duty.
Contributing to the delinquency of a minor.(Under 21)
I know your intentions were not bad, but; your judgment was not too sound?
Say even with a 1/2 a bottle, an empty stomach, one of the students got drunk, or sick, caused a wreck,
Whom do you think is to blame?
Class C felony in most states and then on severity Class B in some others.
Same with cigarettes, condoms etc..

in any case you have be be 21 to drink, purchase, or have alchohal in your possession although the cop could let you off with a warning depends on how nice the cop is or how strict he is on the law

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