In Illinois, underage drinking carries penalties not just for the person providing the alcohol, but to the underage drinker as well.
If you are under age 21, it is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine, to possess, dispense or consume alcohol. You may not buy alcohol, nor can you accept it as a gift. The law also prohibits faking or altering your identification.
The charge for providing alcohol to someone underage is also a Class A Misdemeanor. If you sell alcohol, and you or your employees reasonably believe someone is underage, you must ask for ID.
If you add a car into the mix, the underage drinker can be in even greater trouble. Open alcohol containers in your car or even trace amounts of alcohol on your breath can trigger Illinois’s Zero Tolerance law, leading to the suspension of your driver’s license. See our related post Illinois Zero Tolerance Law.
If you are charged with underage possession or consumption of alcohol, speak with an experienced attorney immediately. Do not make any statements to the police or to third parties. Just like in police shows, any statements you make can be used against you.
As with other criminal offenses, the state must prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The law provides a couple limited defenses. You may consume alcohol as part of a religious ceremony or if you are under your parents’ direct supervision in the privacy of your home.
If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)