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To Sam

Buying alcohol

Hi Sam,

I am 18, but when i was 17 i tried to buy a bottle of wine for my gran's birthday, in the local shop.

I didn't use a fake ID or anything but they asked me for ID and i said "sorry i dont have any, dont worry about it, thanks anyway" and then i left.

Now that i am 18 i can buy alcohol but i am constantly paranoid that if i ever buy it in the same shop and show my ID, that they'll remember when i tried before and realise that i was 17.

I know it's illegal to buy alcohol if you're under 18 and i know it's illegal if you have a fake ID but i only tried i didnt actually buy it and i never had a fake ID so i guess my question is: Is it illegal to TRY to buy alcohol if you're under 18 and dont use a fake ID?

I feel really guilty and ashamed and really anxious that im going to get into trouble. Please help!


Ask Sam


Hi there

It is illegal to sell alcohol to someone under the age of 18, or to use a false or borrowed ID to buy alcohol or get into a club or pub. If you’re under 18, you can also be stopped, have alcohol taken off you, be fined or arrested for drinking alcohol in a public place. This could mean getting a criminal record.

Buying or attempting to buy alcohol is also against the law but it’s important to remember that laws about buying alcohol are to protect children and young people.

Drinking alcohol can affect your physical and mental health, especially while you’re still growing and developing. The effects of alcohol can do things that you wouldn’t usually do, and you could put yourself in danger. There are laws in place to stop you drinking and smoking before you’re mature enough to do this safely.

Places that sell alcohol like shops, supermarkets pubs and clubs will usually ask you to show ID to prove that you’re 18 or over if you try to buy alcohol. They can refuse to sell it if you have no ID, or they think the ID is fake or isn’t yours. They can be prosecuted and fined if they sell alcohol to someone under 18. They could lose their licence or be shut down, sometimes permanently.

If you do go back the same shop, you can show your valid ID to buy alcohol and you should be served unless they think that you are buying it to give or sell to someone else who’s underage. Now you’re old enough - buying alcohol is legal and you shouldn’t feel worried about going back to the shop. If the shopkeeper remembers you trying to buy it when you were younger, it’s always okay to apologise and to reassure them that you have the correct ID now.

I hope that helps. If you want to talk this over more, you can always talk to a Childline counsellor on the phone or online.

Take care,


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