United Kingdom: What age can children drink alcohol while with their parents? The law explained
Many parents feel there’s no harm in now and again giving a small alcoholic drink to a teenager.
By Sonia Sharma & Jennifer Russell
January 13, 2020
The legal drinking age in Scotland is 18, but did you know children under 18 can have a drink with a meal.
Parents can allow their teenage children a beer or a glass of wine with a meal if eating in a restaurant.
Many parents feel there’s no harm in now and again giving a small alcoholic drink to a teenager, aged 16 or 17, if celebrating a special occasion.
The law says that if you’re 16 or 17 and accompanied by an adult, you can drink beer, wine or cider if you’re out eating a meal at a restaurant or other licensed premises.
It is, of course, against the law to give alcohol to children under five.
However, it’s not actually illegal for a child aged five to 17 to drink alcohol at home or on other private premises.
This is not because drinking at a young age is considered all right, it is more because alcohol consumption in the home is unregulated.
But all experts recommend an alcohol-free childhood and urge people to prevent underage drinking.
The gov.uk website says: “You can be stopped, fined or arrested by police if you’re under 18 and drinking alcohol in public.
“If you’re under 18, it’s against the law – for someone to sell you alcohol, to buy or try to buy alcohol, for an adult to buy or try to buy alcohol for you to drink alcohol in licensed premises (such as a pub or restaurant)
“However, if you’re 16 or 17 and accompanied by an adult, you can drink (but not buy) beer, wine or cider with a meal.
“If you’re 16 or under, you may be able to go to a pub (or premises primarily used to sell alcohol) if you’re accompanied by an adult. However, this isn’t always the case. It can also depend on the specific conditions for that premises.”
According to UK Chief Medical Officer guidance, if youngsters drink alcohol, it should not be until at least the age of 15.
And if young people aged 15 to 17 consume alcohol, it should always be with the guidance of a parent or carer or in a supervised environment.