Restaurant Liscensing Laws

Responsible service of alcohol in BYO restaurants

Both licensed and BYO restaurant operators have responsibilities in minimising liquor abuse through the way liquor is served and consumed in their premises. For licensed restaurateurs, liquor trading entitlements are prescribed under the liquor laws and by conditions imposed on the liquor licence.

These trading provisions apply to:

* a prohibition on minors and intoxicated persons being served alcohol
* liquor trading hours
* requirements for meals to be served (as part of the primary purpose of a restaurant), and
* the number of patrons not exceeding the amount of seating available.

In addition, the licensee is required to complete a prescribed restaurant licensee’s course that outlines the statutory and operational requirements of running a restaurant. All liquor serving staff must have completed an approved responsible service of alcohol course.

While there are greater legal obligations applying to a licensed restaurant, BYO restaurants also have obligations under the liquor laws and it is in their interests to ensure they operate responsibly.

This page summarises the responsible serving provisions of the liquor laws that apply to BYO restaurants.

Key points

* It is illegal for a person to supply liquor to a minor in a BYO restaurant. This applies to staff and patrons unless the person is the parent or the guardian of the minor. The maximum penalty is $11,000 and / or 12 months imprisonment in aggravated circumstances.
* It is illegal for a minor to drink liquor in a BYO restaurant (unless authorised by their accompanying parent / guardian). The maximum penalty is $2,200.


Operators of BYO restaurants can face the same underage drinking issues as operators of licensed venues, particularly as BYO restaurants are often a popular and cheap place for minors to socialise with their family and friends.

Towards the end of the school year, BYO restaurants often host school formals and sporting group functions that minors attend. Where functions involving large groups of young people are at a BYO restaurant, all safeguards should be in place to prevent minors obtaining liquor on the premises.

One of the key strategies is to request proof of age of young people before they are allowed to consume liquor. Under the liquor laws the following forms of prescribed evidence of age can be checked to verify a young person is over 18:

* Proof of Age Card issued by the RTA (or interstate equivalent) (until December 2008)
* current driver licence
* passport, and
* Photo Card (issued by the RTA).

Responsible service of alcohol training, which is required to be undertaken by operators and staff of licensed restaurants, helps to increase awareness of the laws applying to minors and alcohol. This training is also suitable for those working in BYO restaurants to help gain an appreciation of the liquor laws and the strategies that can be used to minimise liquor abuse problems.

Frequently asked questions
Q. As a BYO operator, what can I do to prevent minors drinking alcohol in my restaurant?
A. A number of simple steps can be taken, including:

* remove wine glasses from minors seated at dining tables
* request proof of age from all young people who want to be served alcohol
* identify patrons who are underage and monitor them (and their friends) to ensure they are not served alcohol
* ensure bottles of beer and wine are not left on dining tables where minors have access to them
* display the notice that states the offence of supplying liquor to a minor. This notice is available for purchase from the department by contacting the Customer Service Centre on 02 9995 0333
* adopt and promote a house policy that reinforces the restaurant’s responsible serving practices
* ensure people booking large functions, particularly school formals and junior sporting groups, are provided with a copy of the restaurant’s house policy, and
* consider responsible service of alcohol training for you and your staff to gain further information about the liquor laws and strategies that can be used in a restaurant.

Q. Is responsible service of alcohol training mandatory for people working in BYO restaurants?
A. While responsible service of alcohol training is not mandatory for people working in a BYO restaurant, operators are encouraged to consider this training for themselves and their staff. As part of a one day responsible service of alcohol training program, students gain an understanding of the responsible serving laws, best practices in serving liquor and operating a venue, and strategies that can be adopted to minimise liquor abuse problems.
Q. Where can I do this course?
A. Responsible service of alcohol training is conducted regularly by most TAFE colleges, industry associations (including Restaurant and Catering NSW) and a number of private colleges. Further information is available from the responsible service of alcohol course providers page.
Q. Do the intoxication laws apply to a BYO restaurant?
A. The offences of permitting intoxication and serving liquor to an intoxicated person only apply on licensed venues. However, BYO restaurant operators should still ensure that their premises are operated responsibly and that, as part of their house policy, intoxication and irresponsible serving / drinking practices are discouraged.
Q. A parent wants to give their underage child a glass of wine with dinner in my BYO restaurant. Is this allowed?
A. Yes. There is nothing to prevent a BYO restaurant’s house policy from prohibiting underage drinking on the premises, even where a parent or guardian is the person who is supplying the liquor to them.
Q. Are my staff liable where a minor or other patrons have brought the liquor into my BYO restaurant and the employee serves liquor to the minor?
A. Yes, any person, including staff, is liable for the offence of supplying liquor to a minor with maximum court penalties of $11,000 applying. Minors also face prosecution for the offence of consuming liquor in a BYO restaurant (unless authorised by their parent or guardian).
Q. I understand that licensed restaurants are required to provide free drinking water to patrons. Does this requirement also apply to BYO restaurants?
A. Free drinking water is required to be provided to patrons of licensed venues. These laws recognise the importance of having water available to patrons, particularly those who are dehydrated, taking medication, or for those who want to limit the amount of alcohol they drink.
While it is not a statutory requirement for BYO restaurants, it is something that BYO operators are encouraged to adopt as part of their venue’s house policy and as a best practice in customer service.
Q. What do I have to do if I want to sell liquor in my BYO restaurant?
A. A liquor licence must be obtained for the restaurant before liquor can be sold. This includes situations where liquor is included in the price of a meal eg. a bottle of wine is included with a three course meal.


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