What Is Underage Consumption of Alcohol? What happens if the State charges me with Underage Consumption of Alcohol?
Underage Consumption of Alcohol, in basic terms, is the consumption of an alcoholic beverage by anyone under the age of 21.
Typical Situation Where a Person Receives an a Consumption Ticket:
The police show up to a party, and a bunch of teenagers are drinking. The police usually bring a portable breathalyzer and ask each person to blow into it. If a person blows a 0.00, they are free to leave. If a person blows anything above 0.00, they receive an underage consumption by a minor ticket.
Possible Consequences of an Underage Consumption Charge:
In Illinois, Underage Consumption of Alcohol is far more serious than a simple ticket. A court will not sentence you to jail (though it has the authority to, as the charge is often a Class A misdemeanor). Instead, most underage consumption tickets are written as ordinance violations. Ordinance violations are only punishable by a fine. This is as serious as pleading guilty and will place an alcohol disposition on your background. You will have to disclose this to a college or graduate school. You will also have to disclose this if you seek a professional license in fields like law and medicine.
Additionally, if you plead guilty to this charge, the state may suspend your Illinois driver’s license. There is a 3-month license suspension if you receive court supervision and a 12-month license suspension if the state convicts you of the Underage Consumption of Alcohol statute.
Defending an a Consumption of Alcohol Charge:
As an attorney, I have either had the state dismiss the charge (avoiding supervision) or have taken the cases to trial, where the court found my client not guilty.
Exceptions Which Allow a Minor to Consume Alcohol:
There are some instances where the Illinois State Statute does not prohibit Underage Consumption of Alcohol. This include if you are drinking for a religious ceremony and you are 18 years of age or older but younger than 21. This also includes if you are enrolled in a culinary arts, fermentation science, food service, or restaurant management degree program. You have to be instructed by a professional who is 21 years of age or older. Also, the alcohol consumption must be for teaching purposes and not exceed over 6 tastes in a class period.
Any amount of alcohol while driving can lead to a DUI.
Drinking alcohol as a minor also has greater effects if the individual drives after consuming the alcohol.
Illinois is a zero-tolerance state. If a chemical test determines that an underage driver has a Blood Alcohol content (BAC) above 00.00%, the driver can be cited for DUI.
Illinois Underage Consumption of Alcohol Statute: 235 ILCS 5/6-20