Wednesday 11 July 2018

Hate the game - Sale & Supply of Alcohol edition

The outcome is absurd. Someone should not be prevented from buying a bottle of wine just because they have their teenager with them. But the problem isn't the store or the check-out clerk, it looks instead to be the rules.

The Herald's rounded up several cases of folks being turned away from the supermarket checkout because they have alcohol in the cart and the kids in tow.

Here's the Sale & Supply of Alcohol Act 2012.

Section 239(1) makes it an offence to allow alcohol to be sold or supplied to any person under the purchase age. 239(8) says you're in trouble if you know or have reasonable grounds to believe that the alcohol is intended for a person under the purchase age. While section 240 provides an exemption for on-licences, so if you have your parent along, it's all fine, but I can't see any parallel rule for off-licences.

So if I'm reading all of that right (I am not a lawyer), it is legal for a parent to buy alcohol, bring it home, and supply it to their minor child. It is legal for a parent to go to the pub with their minor child and to buy a beer for their child. But if the check-out clerk at the off-licence has reasonable reason to expect that a parent at the supermarket is buying the alcohol for a minor who is with them, then the store can be up for fines of up to $10k and potential loss of licence for up to seven days. Since the police like running stings and the penalties are high, you should expect risk aversion.

One potential solution would be to extend the exemption in Section 240 to off-licences. I have no clue how the supermarket clerk could tell that the two people at the check-out are parent and child, but neither do I have any clue how the bartender can verify the same thing at the pub if the parent passes the beer to the seventeen year old.

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