The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola


47 DuPage Court, Elgin, IL 60120


What Happens if I am Caught Underage Drinking in Illinois?

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Kane County Criminal Defense LawyerDon’t let the media's portrayal of underage drinking and drug use fool you — it is dangerous and illegal. Although the thought of a wild high school party or a college freshman dorm room includes mental pictures of booze, marijuana or other illicit activity, the state of Illinois has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking, and this is for good reason. The drinking laws in the United States are set in place to ensure that underage minors do not injure themselves, or others, due to alcohol consumption. If an underage minor (under 21)  is caught drinking alcohol, the child, and his or her parents, may face severe penalties. 

Understanding the Zero Tolerance Law 

The state of Illinois enacted the Zero Tolerance Law for underage drinking in an effort to keep minor children and adolescents safe from the implications of consuming alcohol at a young age. There are a variety of reasons that the drinking age is set at 21. Underage drinking is prohibited due to:

  • Potential stunted brain development from consuming alcohol while the brain is still forming

  • Potential for developing alcoholism

  • Death or injuries from drinking and driving 

The Zero Tolerance Law clearly states that it is illegal to:

  • Consume, purchase or transport alcohol under the age of 21

  • Purchase or supply a minor under 21 with alcohol

  • Operate a motor vehicle with a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) above 0.00 under the age of 21

  • Allow underage children or teens to consume alcohol in your possession or on your property 

  • To transport alcohol in the passenger seat of a vehicle 

Criminal Penalties 

There are harsh penalties for both the underage drinker, parents or other adult parties included in the activities. Drinking underage in Illinois is a misdemeanor offense. This means that if a minor is found with a BAC above 0.00, he or she could be fined up to $500 or face jail time up to six months. 

If an underage minor (under 21) is found operating a vehicle with a BAC level above 0.00, he or she will have all driving privileges suspended. When a police officer has probable cause to pull over a driver, and the driver is a minor who has consumed alcohol, the officer will report the statement to the Secretary of State’s legal office to have the driver’s license suspended. A first offense will be met with a three-month suspension, and a second offense will be met with a one-year suspension. However, if the BAC is 0.08 (or 0.05 with additional evidence pointing to intoxication) the minor may be charged with a DUI

Parents knowingly allowing minors to consume alcohol in the home can be fined $500 or more and face potential felony charges if the drinking leads to significant injury or death. If an adult is found purchasing or supplying alcohol to an underage minor, they may face up to $2,500 in fines and a year-long prison sentence for their first offense. A second or subsequent offense may lead to fines up to $25,000 and a longer prison sentence. 

Contact an Elgin, Illinois Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you are accused of criminal charges for underage drinking or involvement in underage drinking, the The Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola may be able to help defend you. Our Elgin, Illinois underage drinking defense lawyer Brian J. Mirandola has years of experience defending those facing criminal charges. He also prosecuted underage drinking offenders for seven years as an Assistant State’s Attorney, so he has a unique understanding of the implications that underage drinking can have on an individual’s life. To schedule a free consultation with our office, call today at 847-488-0889



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