It’s the season for proms and graduation parties, which means increased underage drinking and serious safety concerns. What many adults do not know, is that they can be found liable when a teen consumes alcohol on their watch.
Young People and Alcohol
The Illinois Youth Survey, which is given to many Chicago area students, provides feedback regarding their drug and alcohol use. The latest report indicated that over 60% of Illinois high school seniors had consumed alcohol over the past year and nearly 14% drove while under the influence. Drunk or drugged driving is illegal at any age, but when inexperienced drivers are involved, the risks are apparent.
Unfortunately, many parents and caregivers allow underage children to drink alcohol, some in an attempt to reduce harm, assuming that if drinking is monitored by an adult, the risks are reduced. No matter the reason, adults can be found liable if they serve alcohol to a minor in Illinois.
Serving Alcohol to a Minor
inorA minor who drives while under the influence, can face serious consequences. If convicted of driving while intoxicated, driving privileges can be suspended or revoked for a minimum of one year. If an adult serves alcohol to a minor, who drives after drinking, they can also be held liable. Knowingly providing alcohol to a minor on a misdemeanor level goes along with a maximum $2,500 fine and up to a year in jail. A felony offense can result in fines of up to $25,000 and a prison sentence.
Illinois has a social host law, which was signed into law in 2012. Those knowingly allowing underage drinking to occur at a private residence face a $500 minimum fine. If a serious injury or death occurs as the result of this activity, the responsible party is subject to a Class 4 felony. This means up to 3 years in prison, along with fines.
Injury attorneys in Chicago urge anyone hosting a party in their home to be aware of the social host law. Even if an injury or death occurs off of their property, adults can be held liable if a minor gets behind the wheel of a car after they’ve provided them alcohol. Even if parents have not granted permission for children to drink, they may be held responsible for any injuries that result. Teenagers who drink under an adult’s supervision, and their families, may also seek civil compensation, if injuries are suffered.