Understanding a Minor in Possession of Alcohol Charge

possession of alcohol, underage drinking, Naperville juvenile defense lawyers, juvenile court, teen drinkingTeenagers experiment with alcohol. Underage drinking is such a common occurrence in our society that it is often considered to be a right of passage. Although it happens often, it is dangerous and should not be encouraged.

Teenagers who consume alcohol face a higher risk of engaging in risky behaviors like promiscuous sex and driving under the influence than their sober peers. In Illinois and every other state in the country, it is illegal for individuals under the age of 21 to purchase, possess, and consume alcohol.

Possession of Alcohol and Related Charges

When a minor is found possessing or consuming alcohol in a public place, he or she faces a minor in possession (MIP) charge. This is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $2,500 and up to one year in jail.

Other alcohol-related charges a minor can face include:

  • Transporting an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle;
  • Using fraudulent documents to obtain fake identification for the purpose of buying alcohol;
  • Driving under the influence (DUI);
  • Using fake identification to buy alcohol; and
  • Altering a driver’s license in an effort to use it to buy alcohol.

Additionally, an adult who lends his or her identification to a minor so the minor can purchase alcohol may face a Class A misdemeanor charge. It is a Class 4 felony to manufacture, distribute, sell, or advertise false identification cards. It is also illegal for an adult to provide minors with alcohol, except for under one specific circumstance outlined below.

Exceptions to Illinois’ MIP Law

In Illinois, there are two circumstances under which individuals younger than 21 may possess and consume alcohol:

  • In a private home while under the direct supervision of a parent or another adult in a parental role; and
  • As part of a religious service or ceremony.

Penalties for a Minor Adjudicated for an Alcohol-related Charge

Depending on the circumstances of his or her case, your child can face the following penalties for an alcohol-related charge:

  • Community service;
  • Counseling;
  • Fines;
  • Court supervision; and
  • A driver’s license suspension.

If your child is under 18, his or her case will be handled by the juvenile court system. This is a more informal, flexible court system than the adult system. Individuals between the ages of 18 and 20 may be charged with MIP despite being legal adults because they are not yet 21. If your child is in this age group, he or she will face a Class A misdemeanor charge and the case will be handled in the municipal court where the charge is entered.

Work with an Experienced Geneva Juvenile Defense Lawyer

If your son or daughter is facing an alcohol-related charge, contact our team of Naperville juvenile defense lawyers at Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC today to set up your initial consultation in our office. We can answer any questions you have about the charge, the juvenile court process, and the penalties your child is facing during the consultation.