Parents, guardians and even unrelated adults who allow underage drinking of alcohol can face harsh penalties under a new Illinois law in effect in 2013. The law applies whether the drinking took place in the adult’s home or in other property owned by or arguably under the control of the adult, such as a business, boathouse or storage space. The penalties also apply whether the underage person is the adult’s child, ward, or an unrelated teen guest at a party.
Adults charged with allowing drinking by underage persons at a minimum could be charged with a misdemeanor, with possible incarceration in jail and a fine of $500 or more. If someone is hurt as a result of the underage drinking, for example, as a result of a teen leaving a social party and getting involved in a DUI accident injuring either themselves or others, adult could be charged with a Class 4 felony, punishable by incarceration in prison for a longer period of time.
A controversial aspect of the new law appears to lessen any requirement that the adult be found to have explicitly authorized or sanctioned the underage drinking or even at least be found to have had specific knowledge of it at the time it occurred. This aspect of the law may be susceptible to legal challenge, some believe, as going too far in punishing persons who have not affirmatively done anything wrong. One defense in the law is that adults who call police for assistance in ending a social gathering at which minors have consumed alcohol or to find intoxicated minor who have left will not be prosecuted.
Parents, guardian and other adults who host social gatherings for underage minors need to be informed of this expansion of Illinois law. If charged with violating it, they need to be prepared to adequately defend themselves, as the harsh penalties can be life altering. The Law Offices of Goldman & Associates, a Chicago criminal defense law firm, stands ready to provide a rigorous defense for people in Illinois charged with violations of this law or other criminal offenses, whether by adults or minors. Contact our office at 773-484-3131 or 847-215-2600 if you or a family member is facing prosecution on such charges.