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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 from the City of Wheaton.

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.

Hinsdale Police Department Deputy Chief Mark Wodka said the law is statewide.

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 rid of anyone breaking the rules on their property, he or she would not be in violation of the act, according to the release. 

To read more about the law change, go to the City of Wheaton website.

Gary December 27, 2012 at 02:50 AM
So let's make sure the underage drinkers are out in public endangering other peoples lives when they decide to drink. And they will, no matter what the law says. It is not surprising to me that this lamebrained idea comes from Hinsdale, the #1 town in Dupage that preys on their residents for revenue to make up for the budget cuts and for their proposed lavish improvements.
Sue Pircon December 27, 2012 at 10:48 PM
While I fully support the fight against underage drinking I find this new law absolutely insane. If a person “knowingly” allows underage drinking in the home, the law is fine. But it goes way too far to hold individuals responsible for actions of other adults! I would be more supportive if it pertained only to actual “minors” (aka individuals under the age of 18) but when are these “kids” going to be responsible for their own actions? Does the term “personal responsibility” have any place in our society? Can someone really be found guilty of not preventing a crime? Did Illinois pass a law that holds the parents responsible when their 15 year old child is involved in a gang shooting or are the lawmakers only concerned with underage drinking? I have to agree with Greg, this seems to be nothing more than a revenue booster for the State. This problem has existed through generations and people need to work together for solutions, not put parents in the position of being mind readers!
Erik Bloecks December 30, 2012 at 03:56 AM
More Idiocy coming from our state politicians.

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