Alcohol & Public Health Research Unit supports:
The Bill proposes to include a defence for licensees against a charge of serving minors that they were shown proof of age (C.75, SOL 155(4A). However it adds nothing that would actually require licensees to ask for such an ID or young people to present one.
The Bill does not provide an ID for young people. However, proposals for changes to the Land Transport Safety Act would make the drivers licence suitable for use as proof of age, and a non-drivers ID card is also proposed for those who wish to have one. This system is backed by a computerised data base.
This proposal is supported as a system that will work effectively. Such IDs are used as evidence of age in the US (age 21) and Canada (age 19), where the public do not considered it to impinge on individual rights.
US experiences suggest that effective age restrictions depend on a well designed, tightly administered ID card, backed by police operations to enforce compliance by both on and off licences premises (Wagenaar et al. 1993; Wagenaar & Wolfson 1994; Wolfson et al. 1996.)
We do note that parents are financially liable for under-18s. Will parents be told about a the infringement notice by the teenager, or would they hear about it when a bailiff comes to collect a much larger accumulated debt?
In Victoria the 1987 legislation provided for licensees asking a person's age and requesting a signed statement of age, name and address, but it is a defence if a licensee has made reasonable inquiries to satisfy himself that the person was not under 18. The Victoria Licensing Commission has recently developed a programme for licensees and an information poster on identifying false IDs. From February 1996 penal provisions related to false identification were strengthened and include a penalty notice scheme allowing spot fines set at 10% of the maximum. In 1995 over 2000 proof-of-age cards were issued through 120 outlets, under effective control procedures (Liquor Licensing Commission 1995).
In Western Australia, a licensee's belief that a minor was over 18 is a defence, or he can show that the business is not conducted to entice minors and that proper diligence was exercised. In South Australia these arguments are only a defence for a 17 year old or if the licensee didn't personally serve the person. The 1992 Queensland Act required licensees to evict minors, but prosecutions for failure to do so proved difficult. In 1994 this requirement was amended to clarify the prohibition on liquor sales to minors, require the licensee or manager to ensure that no minors are on the premises and raise the financial penalties. The offence of supplying liquor to a minor was extended to public places as well as adjacent to licensed premises, unless various exemptions related to adult supervision applied.
The Queensland Act, the most recent, prescribes acceptable evidence of age, with photograph, from public authorities. The detailed penal provisions focus on the underage drinker including making it an offence to give false representation of intention to dine or to refuse to leave the premises or otherwise obstruct a licensee or employee, as well as on the licensee's right and responsibility to ascertain age. Any document wrongfully used as evidence of age may be seized. The 1994 amendments make it an offence to supply false information to obtain an official ID, or to give another person one's own ID, and included as acceptable a proof of age card issued by an approved entity, such as 'Keypass', a privately issued card of high integrity from Victoria. Queensland has been running a 'Schoolies' campaign about the minimum drinking age and ID requirements for some years, expanding it interstate when analysis of prosecutions for 1994 showed that only 20% were Queensland minors. Over 50,000 18+ cards have been issued by Queensland Transport, with 1796 driver's licences and ID cards confiscated as fraudulent in 1994/95. In that year there were 317 prosecutions of minors, but only three prosecutions of licensees for supplying liquor to minors (Liquor Licensing Division 1995).
In Tasmania the legislation itself merely requires patrons to give name address and date of birth to a police officer in required. However, the guidelines distributed by the Licensing Board states that acceptable evidence of age would include a motor vehicle drivers or rider's licence or a 'proof of age' card issued by the Transport Commission or other Australian authority, provided it has a photograph.
In New South Wales acceptable evidence of age is prescribed by regulations, following amendments to the 1982 Act. The Act now requires anyone reasonably suspected of being a minor to produce documentary evidence on request or later to the police, and makes it an offence to use false evidence. The Roads and Traffic Authority is currently developing a new over-the-counter photo-licence system, using unique holograms for card security (Liquor & Gaming March 1996). Western Australia has also been contemplating a non-forgeable proof of age card, with increased sanctions for licensees and for juveniles and also for their parents (Evans 1995).
Excerpt from Hill, L. (1997) Regulating the sale of liquor: International perspectives. Alcohol and Public Health Research Unit, University of Auckland.