Consequences of Underage Drinking

By 5th September 2022Criminal Law
underage drinking

South Africa was shocked to the core by the recent tavern tragedy in the Eastern Cape that claimed the lives of 21 children ranging from the ages of 13- 17 years old. This tragic occurrence made our nation once again realize the devastating effects of underage drinking.

The National Liquor Act 59 of 2003 states that no one may supply liquor to minors. Minors are children under the age of 18 years. The sale of serving alcohol to persons under the age of 18 years old is illegal. There is an obligation on the seller to take reasonable measures to determine if a person buying alcohol is 18 years old. Failure to comply with the rules and regulations on the selling of alcohol can result in a fine of R1 000 000.00- or five years of direct imprisonment. Dire consequences of underage drinking include unintentional death and injury associated with driving or engaging in other risky actions after drinking, which include violence, suicide attempts, sexual assault, risky sexual behaviour, and vandalism or malicious property damage.

In February 2022 the Southern Alcohol Policy Alliance (SAAPA) called on the President to commit to several alcohol regulatory changes, including increasing the age for buying and consuming alcohol from 18 years to 21 years. Reducing hours of trade, raising taxes on alcohol even limiting advertising of alcoholic beverages are considered possible interventions to reduce the negative impact of harmful drinking. The law on underage drinking further prohibits alcohol retailers from advertising alcohol in a manner that is intended to target or attract minors. One exception to underage drinking is regarding moderate amounts of alcohol occasionally given to minors by their parents, guardians, or those responsible for religious sacraments.

The effects of underage drinking can be felt by everyone. Individuals should always check up on the local regulations to ensure they are not at risk of committing an offence. For more assistance do not hesitate to contact us.


Charne Sebonka


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