SPRINGFIELD - As the New Year begins, the important role adults play in keeping alcohol out of the hands of our children has been further defined. New sanctions regarding anyone who allows underage drinking in their home took effect on Jan. 1.
Sponsored by State Representative Carol Sente and State Senator Susan Garrett, the new legislation closes a loophole of legal accountability on those who knowingly allow alcohol consumption by minors. “By protecting our youth, we protect our future,” says Illinois Governor Pat Quinn, who signed Public Act 97-1049 into law on Aug. 22, 2012. “Adults know it is unacceptable to allow underage drinking in their home. By putting a social host law on the books, we are sending a strong message to all adults that they will be held responsible when allowing this harmful activity.”
Violators of the social host law will be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor and subject to a fine of not less than $500 when they knowingly authorize or permit underage drinking in their home. If this activity results in great bodily harm or death to any person, the individual is subject to a Class 4 felony. However, a person will not be in violation if he or she has taken all reasonable steps to prevent this activity from occurring. Also, no charges will be filed if assistance is requested from law enforcement after discovery of the illegal activity.
“Statistics show that friends and family remain the primary source of alcohol for underage drinking,” says Illinois Liquor Control Commission (ILCC) Executive Director Gloria L. Materre. “Just as our liquor licensees are punished when selling to minors, all adults will now be subject to penalties should they provide alcohol to minors.”
Mundelein Police Chief and Lake County Underage Drinking Prevention (LCUDP) Task Force Co-Chair Ray Rose, who was instrumental in creating the law, noted, “For the past four years, the LCUDP has played a lead role in encouraging communities throughout the state to pass social host ordinances. By signing this law, Gov. Quinn demonstrates his commitment to protecting the future of all Illinois children.”
Statewide youth contest announced
Underage drinking prevention and education have always been a priority at the Liquor Commission, as best exemplified by its Don’t Be Sorry public awareness campaign. Coming this spring, these efforts will see a renewed focus through the unveiling of a new statewide activity designed specifically by the teens themselves.
“While our Don’t Be Sorry program has been a great success, we are constantly looking for ways to improve its delivery,” says ILCC Education Manager Ted Penesis. “Teenagers are the best resource to provide us with ideas to ensure our educational programs remain fresh and effective. Through this statewide art contest, we can learn from our youth as they submit designs for a new program to educate adults, teens, and liquor retailers on the consequences of underage drinking.”
A panel of judges will review submissions and choose the winning design. In April, the new educational campaign will be unveiled at press events located throughout the state. For contest guidelines, instructions, submission procedures, and more, please visit www.DontBeSorry.org. All copy and artwork must be submitted by the Feb. 15, 2013 deadline.