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New Underage Drinking Law Cracks Down on Parents

Provisions of an Illinois law expands on parents' responsibilities to prevent underage drinking on their property.

A law taking effect Jan. 1 targeting underage drinking will crack down on parents who allow minors to drink anywhere on their property, expanding on the current law that specifies it is illegal to let minors drink at their home. 

The expanded law makes it a misdemeanor carrying a $500 fine for any adult to knowingly permit minors under the age of 21 to drink alcohol on their property or in their home. If the violation results in bodily harm or death, the adult will be charged with a felony, according to a press release.

The provision also strikes the requirement that the person in the home knows about the underage drinking activity.

Further, a parent or guardian who knowingly allows a minor to use their property in a way that violates the act's prohibited sales and possession provisions is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

DUI attorney Donald Ramsell, of Ramsell & Associates, said the law goes too far in its attempt to punish parents when teenagers drink, forcing them to act like police officers any time teenagers visit their homes. 

"The old law carried penalties only when parents actually authorized the drinking or actually knew it was occurring. This new law would put a parent in jail for up to 1 year simply because they failed to prevent underage drinking on their properties," he said. 

If an adult calls the police for assistance with getting ride of anyone breaking the rules on their property, he or she would not be in violation of the act, according to the release. 

—by Charlotte Eriksen

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Red Sam Rackham December 27, 2012 at 01:48 PM
While I can understand the need for tougher enforcement of laws regarding underage drinking, I'm inclined to agree with DUI attorney Donald Ramsell that this law goes too far. Such a law could end up being declared unconstitutional on appeals despite its good intentions.
FlossmoorMom December 27, 2012 at 08:17 PM
Completely agree with you Red Sam Rackham
Red Sam Rackham December 28, 2012 at 01:28 AM
Right on, FlossmoorMom. After all if you as a parent lock up the liquor but 1 of your teen's friends brings his own booze in a pocket flask and sneaks his drinks during visits to the washroom and then is involved in a fatal DUI, would it be right to blame you as a parent simply because the little creep did his drinking on your property? Heck no!
HomewoodVinny December 30, 2012 at 08:12 PM
Red Sam Rackham- Your scenario is a lame example. All laws are discretional. This law is designed to go after parties of 100 plus kids crammed in a basement and the parents playing dumb acting as if they have no knowledge of what is going on in their house. It's time for parents to be parents and not your kid's friend. Stand up and stop burying your heads and know what is going on in your house.

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