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New Underage Drinking Law Cracks Down on Parents

DUI attorney says the law goes too far.

A law taking effect Jan. 1 will crack down on parents who allow minors to drink anywhere on their property, expanding on the current law that specifies it is illegal to let minors drink at their home. 

The expanded law makes it a misdemeanor carrying a $500 fine for any adult to knowingly permit minors under the age of 21 to drink alcohol on their property or in their home. If the violation results in bodily harm or death, the adult will be charged with a felony.

The provision also strikes the requirement that the person in the home knows about the underage drinking activity.

Further, a parent or guardian who knowingly allows a minor to use their property in a way that violates the act's prohibited sales and possession provisions is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.

DUI attorney Donald Ramsell, of Ramsell & Associates in Wheaton, said the law goes too far in its attempt to punish parents when teenagers drink, forcing them to act like police officers any time teenagers visit their homes. 

"The old law carried penalties only when parents actually authorized the drinking or actually knew it was occurring. This new law would put a parent in jail for up to one year simply because they failed to prevent underage drinking on their properties," he said. 

If an adult calls the police for assistance with getting rid of anyone breaking the rules on their property, he or she would not be in violation of the act, according to the release. 

To read more about the law change, go to the City of Wheaton website.

Jim Court December 16, 2012 at 05:31 PM
Knowingly is the keyword. If teens sneak drinks how can a parent be held responsible? If the parent lets them drink or provides alcohol it is a different story. Every legislative continues to produce more laws. No one can keep up with them, even police and lawyers. Tell a judge you were not aware of the law and you will hear "Ignorance of the law is no excuse" even though have law clerks doing constant research for them.
Jim Court December 16, 2012 at 05:32 PM
legislative session
NancyC December 17, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Nanny stat-ism run amok in my opinion. Next they'll be legislating penalties on parents for their college age youths inability to control their alcohol intake for "lack of experience".

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