The Penalty for Being a Social Host
The legal drinking age is 21 years old across the United States. However, there are some who take the law as a recommendation or suggestion, and drink alcohol before their 21st birthday. It may be because young adults are not always the best decision makers, and drinking may be a way to fit in with friends or to experiment.
In some cases, it is an adult that provides the alcohol to the underage drinker, or an adult may simply be present when it is consumed. When this happens, the adult can be charged criminally, and can be sued in civil court.
Who is Responsible?
Under Illinois law, it is illegal for a parent or guardian to knowingly allow a person under the age of 21 years old, other than their child, to consume alcohol on their property. The law makes it a misdemeanor for the adult owner of the property, or a tenant in control of the property who allows this underage drinking. Paying for a hotel room for minors to drink alcohol in is also equally prohibited under this law.
If the underage drinker then goes on to cause great bodily harm or death to another person, directly or indirectly due to his or her intoxicated state, the adult can be charged with a class 4 felony. The penalties for the criminal charges may include jail terms of up to three years, and monetary fines of up to $25,000.
There are exceptions to this law for alcohol consumed by minors as part of a religious ceremony. If you are not sure whether or not your situation qualifies under this religious ceremony exception, it is advisable to consult with a criminal defense attorney before you allow any underage drinking on your property.
Can You Do Anything to Avoid Being Charged?
You can be diligent in trying to make sure that any minors invited onto your property are not there to drink alcohol. If you cannot reasonably stop the minors from drinking alcohol on your property, or have attempted to get them to leave your property without success, you can call the police for help. Calling the police will not get you into trouble, as long as you call before somebody else, for example a neighbor, reports underage drinking on your property.
Consequences for the Underage Drinker
An underage drinker caught in possession of alcohol on a road, street, or public place can be charged with a misdemeanor. In addition, if the underage drinker obtained alcohol by providing a fake ID, he or she may be charged with a class A misdemeanor, and can be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than $500 and ordered to perform community service of not less than 25 hours, preferably at an alcohol abuse prevention center. An underage drinker found with alcohol in a public place cannot be charged under this statute if he or she was sent to get the alcohol by his or her parents, or is simply doing their job.
Contact an Illinois AttorneyIf you are facing criminal charges because you are accused of being a social host, you need to contact a criminal attorney to assess your situation. Contact an experienced Naperville criminal law attorney at Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC for a consultation on your case.