As the weather warms up, the planning begins for proms, graduation parties, and summer get-togethers. Both parents and children should be sure that they do not wreck their summer by getting in trouble for breaking laws related to liquor use by minors. While underage drinkers themselves are subject to legal penalties, adults can face penalties if they allow or enable alcohol consumption by minors. Here is a quick refresher course for adults.
1. Parents Are Responsible for Underage Drinking By Their Children’s Guests
In the state of Illinois, a parent or legal guardian can be found guilty of a Class A misdemeanor and fined a minimum of $500 if they knowingly permit under-age-21 invitees of their child or ward to consume alcohol:
• In their residence.
• On any private property under their control, including rented property such as a vacation cottage where they are the tenant or lessee.
• In any vehicle or watercraft under their control, including a limousine, party bus, or pontoon boat (a new section of the law added in 2015).
In addition, if a violation of the above directly or indirectly results in great bodily harm or death to any person, a person can be found guilty of a Class 4 felony. As a parent, if you let their teenage children or their friends have a few drinks, you could end up spending the next year fighting criminal charges in court.
2. All Adults, Including College Students, Are Responsible for Underage Drinking By Guests in Their Illinois Residence
Under the Illinois Social Host Law of 2013, you are guilty of a Class A misdemeanor if you knowingly allow an underage invitee to possess or consume alcohol in your place of residence. You will be held responsible even if you did not supply the alcohol and even if you were not home when the drinking occurred. The minimum punishment for this crime is a fine of $500. If multiple people share the residence, each resident can be fined the $500 minimum.
In addition, if such consumption directly or indirectly results in great bodily harm or death to any person, you can be found guilty of a Class 4 felony, the penalty for which includes a minimum of one year in jail.
You can, however, avoid criminal charges under this law IF you request assistance from law enforcement to stop the underage drinking BEFORE any other person makes a formal complaint to law enforcement.
3. Adults Renting a Hotel Room Have Legal Responsibility
It is a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois for:
• A hotel/motel employee to rent a room to a person under age 21 knowing that alcohol will be consumed there. (The minimum age to rent a hotel room is generally 18, but some Illinois municipalities have passed ordinances prohibiting rentals to anyone under age 21.)
• Any person age 21 or older to pay for a room in a hotel, motel, resort, or similar business knowing that underage drinking will take place there.
Hotel employees should be trained to ensure that they do not provide access to alcohol to underage individuals, including not giving them keys to minibars containing alcohol and not delivering liquor via room service without checking IDs.
Protect Your Rights with an Experienced Joliet Criminal Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with a liquor law violation, you could be facing penalties far worse than a $500 fine. An experienced Will County liquor violations attorney will investigate your case thoroughly to develop evidence that could get your charges reduced or even dismissed. Contact the Law Offices of Jack L. Zaremba at 815-740-4025 for a free and confidential consultation; phone calls are answered 24 hours a day.