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Illinois Expands Social Host Crimes in the State

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Illinois alcohol to minors, criminal defense lawyer in Elgin ILIn recent years, the law has attempted to take a tougher stance on underage drinking. One of the biggest ways that this has been done is through the increasing criminalization of providing alcohol to minors. One group that has been targeted especially heavily is parents. Parents' opinion on when their child is responsible enough to drink may differ from the state's.

This can make it difficult for the state to enforce their policies on underage drinking because parents can provide children with places to drink that the police can have difficulty entering, such as private homes. In order to deal with this, the state passed a law that criminalized being a "social host" for minors, which means that it is illegal to provide a place for minors to drink.

What Social Host Crimes Are

Social host crime is designed to prevent parents from giving their children a place to drink outside of the public eye. The law makes it a crime for any parent to knowingly allow their child or people whom their child invites over to drink alcohol on the premises if they are under the age of 21. The law applies to any property that the parent "controls," so that could be homes or other property that the parent has. Additionally, the use of controls rather than owns means that a parent who rents their home cannot shift their guilt onto the landlord.

Penalties for the crime can be quite severe. Simply allowing minors to drink in the home is a Class A misdemeanor. That means that the parent can end up in jail for up to a year if convicted. Additionally, the law imposes a fine of at least $500, but it could go as high as $2,500. The penalties can also increase if the drinking ends up causing someone's death or great bodily harm. If that happens, then the crime is upgraded to a Class 4 felony. That means that the sentence would be between one and three years in prison along with a fine of up to $25,000.

Changes to the Law

The state legislature also recently expanded this law in order to cover more acts. The law now applies the same punishment to parents who let minors drink in "any vehicle, conveyance, or watercraft" that the parent controls. While this section could apply to parents who let their children drink in a car, more realistically it was designed to apply to parents who let their kids drink on a boat or who give them the use of an RV or camper.

While many parents think that letting their children drink underage is harmless, the law takes it quite seriously. If you have recently been charged with this sort of crime, contact a Elgin, IL criminal defense attorney today.

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