Fines for selling alcohol to underage no longer capped

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16 March 2015

In fact, where the offence is considered a level five offence, magistrates can now impose an unlimited fine.

Typically speaking, the change in legislation gives magistrates more flexibility when deciding on punishments. They will still be able to hand down prison sentences of up to 6 months, but crucially they will be able to ‘hit’ culprits financially in much harder terms than before.

It’s expected in some cases that fines could run into many thousands of pounds, and quite rightly so. Unfortunately, far too many offenders wilfully sell alcohol to those they know to be under age. Perhaps understanding that much more hefty fines can now be incurred might act as a deterrent.

The challenge will be making offenders aware that the new powers exist, in much the same way as certain criminal breaches of health and safety law are perceived. What we’re likely to see is a series of businesses made an example of and hopefully the press will pick up on this.

Of course, selling alcohol to those underage is not the only offence deemed a level five offence. Below are a list of other offences that will see the full force of the magistrates’ powers:

  • manufacture, import and sale of realistic imitation firearms - maximum penalty of 6 months in prison or a Level Five fine
  • selling, supplying, offering to supply and hiring products to persons under 18, such as adult fireworks, crossbows/knives/axes/blades - maximum penalty of 6 month in prison or a Level Five fine
  • unauthorised sale of (football) tickets - maximum penalty of 6 months in prison or a Level Five fine
  • harassment (without violence) - maximum penalty of 6 months in prison or a Level Five fine)
  • false statement or representation to obtain social security benefit - maximum penalty of 3 months in prison or a Level Five fine
  • failure to comply with an improvement notice to ensure properties are safe and habitable – maximum penalty of a Level Five fine


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