Underage drinking is a common activity among teens in social situations. Even those who do not enjoy drinking may feel pressured to fit in with their peers. Parents understand the dangers of underage drinking but may think of it more as a matter of parental discipline than legal punishment. Possession or consumption of alcohol by someone younger than 21 is a crime in Illinois with serious consequences. The penalties become harsher if the drinking is combined with other offenses, such as driving or using a fake ID.
Possession and Consumption
Underage possession or consumption of alcohol is a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois, punishable by a maximum fine of $2,500 and as long as a year in jail. Jail time is highly unlikely for this offense. The biggest consequence for the teen may be the loss of their driving privileges:
- Their license will be suspended for three months if they receive court supervision.
- Their license will be suspended six months for a first offense.
- Their license will be suspended for a year for a second offense.
Possessing alcohol does not mean that the underage person must be caught holding the alcohol. Having the alcohol nearby and within easy access to them also counts as possession. The exception for underage consumption is if the teen is at home and under the supervision of a parent.
There are two types of driving offenses for underage drinkers:
- A zero-tolerance violation means the underage person has any amount of alcohol in their system.
- Driving under the influence means the underage person is legally intoxicated, usually defined as having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) that is greater than 0.08 percent.
The main penalty for a zero-tolerance violation is a driver’s license suspension, but the length of the suspension depends on whether the driver cooperated with BAC testing. A first offense results in a three-month suspension but is doubled to six months if the driver refused the test. A first-time underage DUI conviction will result in a minimum two-year driver’s license suspension and a fine of as much as $2,500.
It is a criminal offense to manufacture or possess false identification, which underage drinkers will often use to purchase alcohol. Most violations are a Class A misdemeanor but could be a Class 4 felony if the offender created a fraudulent ID instead of using someone else’s ID or altering their own ID. A Class 4 felony conviction can result in one-to-three years in prison and a fine of as much as $25,000.
Contact a DuPage County Criminal Defense Lawyer
If your child has been charged with an alcohol-related offense, you need the legal assistance of a Wheaton, Illinois, criminal defense attorney with Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law. We will work to either get the charge dismissed or minimize the punishment. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-260-9647.
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