Underage drinking is an offense taken very seriously in the state of Illinois. The state has set a no-tolerance policy that prohibits minors under the age of 21 from consuming alcohol to keep minors and the public safe. Underage drinking has many dangerous implications including damage to a minor’s growth and mental health. It can lead to drinking and driving, DUIs, serious injury or death. Most underage drinking charges are considered misdemeanors and lead to fines, and even jail time. Minors who call 911 seeking medical or police assistance while under the influence will receive immunity from legal consequences.
Under regular legal processes, consuming or purchasing alcohol as a minor under the age of 21 years old is a misdemeanor. This charge can lead to fines up to $500, license suspension for up to six months, or even jail time. If a minor is found drinking and driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above 0.00, that minor can be charged with a DUI. The exception to this rule is minors acting in good faith. According to Illinois law, minors acting in good faith are those that willingly admit to consuming alcohol underage to request medical or police assistance.
To qualify for immunity, the minor must have requested contact with an office and the following conditions were present:
The minor was seeking medical assistance for themselves
The minor was seeking medical assistance for another person or minor
The minor provided his or her full name to police or medical technicians
The minor remained at the scene where they requested medical assistance
The minor cooperated with any police intervention
The reason that the state of Illinois implemented immunity for minors seeking medical assistance is to promote the priority of safety over targeting criminal conduct. The reason that the legal drinking age is enforced so strongly is to ensure the safety of minors. The state understands that people make mistakes and that underage drinking and drug use happen. To promote the safety of individuals, minors will not be penalized for admitting to underage drinking if it means helping themselves or another in need. Real-life applications to the immunity law include:
Calling 911 because a friend passed out from drinking at a party
Reporting to police of a sexual assault or rape after engaging in underage drinking
Calling 911 for alcohol poisoning
Speak With an Arlington Heights Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or someone you know were charged with underage drinking and are facing penalties for acting under the good faith law, our Arlington Heights criminal defense attorney may be able to help. At Scott F. Anderson, Attorney at Law, Scott Anderson has years of experience helping to defend underage drinking, DUI and other misdemeanor charges. If you feel that you were acting in good faith and should have received immunity for engaging in underage drinking, contact our office today at 847-253-3400 for a free initial consultation.