Penalties stiff for underage persons who violate state drinking laws

By The Madison County Record | Nov 21, 2009

Consumption of alcohol by persons under age 21 is a persistent problem for law enforcement and an offense that can have serious consequences for anyone involved.

In Illinois, the legal drinking age is 21 for all alcoholic beverages. Underage drinkers violate the law when they commit the following infractions:

  • Possess alcohol on a public street or in a public place;

  • Drink alcohol, unless it is part of a religious service or ceremony;

  • Lie about their age to get alcohol;

  • Occupy a residence and knowingly let someone under 21 possess alcohol;

  • Rent a hotel or motel room, knowing that the room will be used for illegal drinking;

  • Carry, make, obtain or copy a false identification card;

  • Operate a motor vehicle with any alcohol in their system.

    Illinois' "Use It & Lose It"/zero tolerance law became effective on January 1, 1995. It set the acceptable blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level for drivers under the age of 21 at .00.

    Penalties for violating the laws are stiff. Unlawful consumption or possession of alcohol by a minor will lead to a suspension of the minor's driving privileges.

    The fine can range from $500 to $2,500 and/or one to 364 days in jail. The use of a false I.D. card can lead to a fine of $25,000 or three years in jail.

    Adults over age 21, who provide alcohol to or for minors, also violate the law and face criminal penalties. For the illegal sale or furnishing of alcohol to minors, there is a penalty of up to $2,500 and/or 364 days in jail.

    For further information about this and other law-related issues, contact an Illinois State Bar Association member-lawyer in your area or visit

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