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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

NotBuyingIt December 29, 2012 at 05:38 PM
This is ridiculous... It is impossible to know at all times if someone is drinking on your property or not. Let's say your child tells you he or she is going out for the evening to see a movie, but in reality parks down the street and walks back to your home with friends and begins drinking behind the garage. There would be no way for a parent to 100% of the time be aware that this on property drinking was happening. It's just ridiculous to put that on a parent. I agree with the attorney quoted in the article above, "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,". If this provision was put to a vote by the general public, I'm positive it would not pass. Patch, why don't you add a vote widget to see what the readers think???
Mark January 01, 2013 at 01:43 PM
Well it is consistent with the general trend of law-- if it is difficult to punish the actual offender lets bring in somebody easier to punish (usually because they have more assets) and punish them instead. Thus Landlords are responsible for the actions of their tenants, Parents for their children. Bars and Restaurants for the activities of people who buy their alcohol there. Retailers for the uses their customers make of the products sold them (spray paint is the minor example). God forbid we should hold the government responsible for the actions of its employees.
SharonC January 01, 2013 at 11:55 PM
i just wanna know with this law...is there a law that if a drunk driver leaves a bar and hurts/kills someone the bartender/owner/waitress/ who served the person alchohol goes directly to jail?
Mark January 02, 2013 at 07:53 PM
Well, theoretically its America and nobody goes directly to jail-- there are little inconveniences like a trial first. But as I recall the penalties for over-serving someone who is later in an alcohol related accident is limited to money.
Mark January 02, 2013 at 08:51 PM
Well, I guess I was wrong. From a NHSTA survey, "Of the 47 jurisdictions with criminal statutes, 45 appear to permit imprisonment" for serving people who are already over the legal driving limit. Same study points out that these provisions are almost never enforced.

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