What Laws Are in Place to Address Underage Drinking and Driving?
Underage drinking and driving is an ongoing problem all across the country, with a surplus of eye-opening statistics that illuminate the reality that the problem is not going to disappear anytime soon. Sadly, in many cases, minors gain access to alcohol because adults provide it for them. While we cannot always control where or how minors acquire alcohol or stop them from making the decision to get behind the wheel once they have consumed it, we do have the power to do our part to prevent these incidences from happening whether minors are under our direct supervision or not.
Should an adult fail to be vigilant with this issue, or should they choose to willfully engage in an activity that allows minors access to alcohol, they are immediately at risk for criminal charges. Everyone loses under these circumstances: the minor caught drinking and driving, any victim(s) who may be affected by the behavior, and the adult responsible for allowing the behavior to take place.
The Need for Alcohol Possession Laws
The Illinois Liquor Control Commission reports that a myriad of health and social consequences exist where underage alcohol consumption is concerned, in addition to the blatant dangers that accompany driving while intoxicated. For starters, the American Medical Association (AMA) points out that an adolescent’s brain is still developing, and studies show alcohol damage at a young age can have long-term and irreversible effects on one’s brain development and overall health. A greater risk for alcoholism later in life, an increase in physical ailments, and a tendency to be overweight plague youth who drink alcohol underage.
Penalties for Adults Who Break Alcohol Possession Laws in Illinois
The legal consequences for parents who allow underage drinking are severe. It is considered a felony to allow underage consumption at your residence if the episode results in injury or death. The state’s possession laws do not apply to parents only, however. In 2013, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn put the Social Host Law into effect, which holds any adult accountable for allowing underage consumption. Adults guilty of this act are subject to a Class A misdemeanor, fines anywhere from $500 to $2,500, jail time, and possible felony charges if an injury or death occurs.
Additional laws to prevent underage drinking also apply to minors specifically. For example, the “Zero Tolerance” law enforces driver’s license suspension, potential prison time, and fines for minors found to be intoxicated while driving, and even the transportation of alcohol in a vehicle is strictly prohibited. Any possession, consumption, or purchase of alcohol by a minor automatically results in the suspension of driving privileges, which vary in length according to conviction.
Abiding by the state’s alcohol possession laws is critical in monitoring and preventing unnecessary underage drinking and driving incidences. By doing your part to put a stop to young drivers getting behind the wheel while intoxicated, you can protect more than just yourself from life-changing criminal charges; you can also protect innocent motorists and pedestrians from needless accident, injury, and death.
If you have been involved in an underage alcohol consumption incident and are facing potential criminal charges, make the decision to speak with a knowledgeable Joliet criminal defense attorney. Attorney Jack L. Zaremba can walk you through the necessary steps to protect yourself in a court of law. Call our office today at 815-740-4025 for a free consultation.