New Law Passed to Prevent Underage Drinking in Illinois

In an effort to stop teen alcohol use, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn recently signed a law that makes giving alcoholic beverages to anyone under 21 a misdemeanor. Under the new law, it does not matter where the alcohol is served – which means that it is a crime to serve alcohol to someone underage in public or inside of someone’s own home.

In addition, the new law – House Bill 1554 – states that if you serve alcohol to someone who is underage and they subsequently go on to hurt someone else or themselves because they were intoxicated, as the adult who served the alcohol, you can be charged with a Class 4 felony.

The new law, which is an amendment to the Liquor Control Act of 1934, also says that the adult does not have to physically hand over the alcohol to an underage drinker. If it is determined that the adult should have reasonably known underage drinking would occur on their property, and they did nothing to prevent it, they have broken the new law. Anyone who is convicted under the new law will face incarceration, as well as a fine.

Other Laws to Prevent Underage Drinking

Illinois also has a Dram Shop law, which means that a commercial entity can be held responsible for serving alcohol to someone who is underage if the drinker goes on to injure someone else. Under this law, a business can be held liable if it can be proven that it sold alcohol to the underage drinker; that alcohol contributed to the underage drinker getting intoxicated; and the underage drinker went on to injure someone else because of being drunk.

How Common Is Underage Drinking?

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), every year alcohol is in some way responsible for about 4,700 deaths – and 11 percent of victims are underage drinkers.

The CDC also reports that underage drinkers are at risk of things like alcohol poisoning, suicide, memory problems and long-term difficulties with brain functioning.

Get the Legal Counsel You Need

Alcohol-related offenses are serious and should not be taken lightly. If you have been charged with a crime that involves alcohol, consult a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who has experience with these types of cases. A qualified lawyer can let you know what your rights are and help you mount a defense against the charges.

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