As most of us know, the drinking age in Illinois is 21. Parents who are social hosts of underage drinkers or establishments that provide alcohol to those under 21 can face criminal penalties.

But there is an exception to that rule. Under Illinois law, parents can allow their underage child to drink alcohol for religious purposes or under the parent’s direct supervision and approval in the privacy of their home. 235 Illinois Compiled Statutes 5/6-20(g).

A new Illinois Appellate case defines the terms of that supervision, People v. Haase, 2012 IL App (2d) 110220. In People v Haase, the parents of the defendant allowed their son to have a glass of wine-cooler punch to celebrate his obtaining a G.E.D. Their son then left the home to help a friend, at which time he was arrested for underage drinking and sentenced to one year of supervision.

The State argued that the parents were responsible for supervising their son until the effects of the alcohol wore off. The Court disagreed. Under the language of the statute, parents need only supervise the actual drinking of the alcohol and not the after-effects.

Before you break out that bottle of champagne, however, you should check the laws of the municipality where you live. Some municipalities such as Skokie and Wilmette do not allow your child to leave your home while still under the influence. Whether the new case will supersede these municipal laws is yet to be determined.

If you are charged with an underage drinking offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can evaluate your case for the best possible defense. Even if the state has overwhelming evidence against you, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse where you must appear may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

(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.)

About mdkeenan

A criminal and school law attorney with over 17 years of experience, I have successfully represented clients all over the Chicago area. My practice includes DUI, felony, criminal, misdemeanor, homicide, internet crime, retail theft, traffic offenses, cyberstalking, drug crimes, weapons violations, domestic battery and juvenile crime. I also represent families involving school cases. My clients come from all over the Chicago area including Skokie, Wilmette, Niles, Northbrook, Glenview, Evanston, Winnetka, Highland park, Northfield, Park Ridge, Des Plaines and Mount Prospect. I am a member of the ACLU and the Illinois State Bar Association. I serve as a volunteer for First Defense Legal Aid. Se habla espanol.
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