Monday, January 7, 2013

Illinois Residents Can No Longer Make Decisions About Underage Drinking

 On January 1, 2013, Public Act 97-1049 went into effect. This law seeks to crack down on parents (or guardians, like other relatives, or baby-sitters, etc.) who permit underage drinking on property they own. Not only is it a crime to allow underage drinking at the parent or guardian’s home, but it is now also a crime to allow underage drinking on property under the parent or guardian’s control, such as a barn, cabin, boathouse, or guesthouse. Illinois legislators are seeking to reduce instances of underage drinking by making it clear that law enforcement may now more forcefully target parents and guardians with this new law. They hope that this law will serve as a deterrent and make parents even more vigilant about what their children are doing on their own property.

Underage drinking is a problem, especially when those teenagers compound that violation with something like driving a car, snowmobile, four-wheeler, or power boat, or participating in general rowdiness. The fact that underage drinking can be a very serious problem is not disputed.

However, as with most situations, there are limits. Many parents see no problem with allowing their children a sip of wine once a week with dinner. Often times, parents may see fit to allow their teenager to consume a limited amount of beer or champagne on a special occasion, such as graduating from high school, or enlisting in the armed forces. (Indeed, the argument that it is ridiculous that one can engage in armed combat for his country but still is not permitted to consume alcohol is one that is commonly made by critics of the prohibition.) Furthermore, in many cultures, serving children under 18 a small amount of significantly watered down alcohol is not at all a cause for concern.

There is no argument that parents actively allowing their children to consume large quantities of alcohol and then allowing those children to go out in public, where they cause problems for others as well as law enforcement, is irresponsible and should not be condoned.

But there is a big difference between being that irresponsible with the safety of one’s child and the safety of others, and, for example, sharing a microbrew with one’s nineteen-year-old the day he enlists for service.

The laws governing parental involvement in underage drinking do not consider such differences. Worse, they take the decision as to what is or isn’t appropriate for children out of their parents’ hands, instead enforcing a decision arrived at by a group of lawmakers in Springfield, one that ignores nuance and the right of a parent to decide what should or shouldn’t occur under his or her own roof.

Regardless of the arguments to be made against such a decision, this law is currently in effect in the state of Illinois. It is important to be aware that penalties have been increased for parents or guardians who allow underage drinking anywhere on their property, so that Illinois parents can better protect themselves from criminal investigation and prosecution.  

If you have any questions or concerns about this, or are in the midst of an investigation involving any kind of underage drinking crime or any alcohol or drug-related offense, contact the Law Offices of Raymond G.Wigell, Ltd., at (708) 481 – 4800. Attorneys are available 24/7 and the first consultation is free. With our 36 years of experience, let us help you through every stage of the criminal investigation and prosecution. 

Content written by +Law Offices of Raymond G. Wigell, Ltd.


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