There are stringent laws about serving alcohol to minors in Illinois, with real consequences.

Illinois Laws on Parents Supplying Alcohol to Minors

by Ashley Garay

As your child's parent, you have a lot of leeway when it comes to the law intervening with your choices for your child. However, when it comes to supplying alcohol to your minor child, the State of Illinois provides clear guidelines as to what is acceptable and what is not, along with strong consequences should you get caught not following the laws. With a couple of exceptions, even your authority as your child's parent does not allow you to decide that your minor is allowed to drink alcohol before the legal age of 21.

1. Parties

Many parents feel that, since their teenager is likely to try alcohol anyway, the teen may as well do it under their own roof with parental supervision. However, hosting your child's underage friends for a party at your house, even if you do not provide the alcohol, even if you have the other parents' permission and take safety precautions like taking away keys, still has heavy consequences if discovered in Illinois. Parents can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, or a class 4 felony in the event of an alcohol-related death, if they knowingly host minors under age 21 who are drinking alcohol, or if a minor leaves the property intoxicated.

2. Purchasing

Again, parents may feel they are protecting their children from taking unnecessary risks by purchasing alcohol for their kids so they don't ask possibly more dangerous strangers to do it for them. However, these parents are taking a big risk themselves, and Illinois law specifically prohibits any purchase of alcohol with the intent to gift or sell it to a minor under the age of 21. These parents can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor for purchasing alcohol for minors, and the minors themselves take the risk of being charged with a Class B misdemeanor if they are caught in possession of alcohol.

3. Exceptions

Illinois law does provide two exceptions to the stringent ban on purchasing alcohol for minors. First is that parents may provide alcohol for their own children if it is to be used strictly at their own private residence under parental supervision, such as a glass of wine with dinner. There may be no unrelated minors in attendance, and of course the minors would be unable to leave the house while intoxicated. The second exception is that parents may provide alcohol to their minor children for the use in a religious ceremony, again supervised by parent. Laws regarding driving while intoxicated still apply to these minors after they have left a private residence or religious ceremony.

4. Consequences

A Class A misdemeanor is punishable at minimum by a fine of $500 and at maximum 1 year in prison and a $2,500 fine. A Class B misdemeanor is punishable by up to 180 days in prison and a $1,500 fine. Often, perpetrators of a class B misdemeanor would be sentenced to community service and probation rather than jail time. A class 4 felony, the charge for adults who provide alcohol to minors who then die in an alcohol related incident, is punishable by a $25,000 fine and/or one to three years in prison. These crimes will also be listed on a permanent record and can affect the ability to get jobs or housing. Illinois also has specific laws stating that providing inadequate supervision or creating a risk of injury to a minor, such as by providing or allowing alcohol use, can result in an investigation of child abuse for the parents.

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