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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_324467150-min.jpgOriginally published: August 4, 2021 -- Updated: September 12, 2022

Update: In addition to the potential criminal charges that may apply for minors who possess or drink alcohol, it is also important to understand that people under the age of 21 who drink and drive may be arrested for DUI. Charges related to drunk driving can have a long-lasting effect on a person's criminal record and their driver's license. For a minor who is facing charges for DUI, it is important to understand the specific laws in Illinois and how they may apply to a particular case. Illinois has a "zero tolerance" law that applies to underage drinking and driving. A person under the age of 21 may face consequences if they are found to have any alcohol in their system while driving. While the legal blood alcohol content limit of .08 percent will still apply, minors who are arrested for DUI may face a license suspension if a chemical test shows that they have any alcohol in their system. A BAC reading above .00 percent will result in a driver's license suspension of three months for a first offense and one year for a second offense. If an underage driver refuses to take a chemical BAC test after being arrested, their license will be suspended for six months for a first offense and two years for a second offense.

Criminal DUI charges will apply if an underage driver is found to be driving under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, or any other substance or combination of substances that affected their ability to operate a vehicle safely. A chemical BAC test reading of .08 percent or more may result in a DUI conviction. Since a first-time DUI is a Class A misdemeanor offense, a person may be sentenced to up to one year in prison, and they may be fined up to $2,500. Underage drivers will also be subject to a two-year driver's license revocation, and they will not be eligible to have their driving privileges reinstated while using an ignition interlock device. After serving one year of their revocation, a person may be able to apply for a restricted driving permit. Underage drivers may also be required to participate in remedial education (traffic school), as well as the Youthful Intoxicated Driver's Visitation Program, which involves counseling and visits to view car accidents caused by drunk driving.


Juvenile Alcohol Offenses in Illinois

Posted on in Juvenile Offenders

IL defense lawyerThe legal drinking age is 21 in all 50 U.S. states. However, this does not mean that every person waits until they are 21 years old to drink alcohol. Teens and young adults may experiment with alcohol before it is legal. In some cases, the decision to drink leads to significant consequences, including criminal charges.

Possession of Alcohol by a Minor

Many young people find ways to access alcohol even though they are not old enough to buy it legally. They may get an older sibling or friend to purchase the alcohol for them or use a fake ID to buy alcohol from the store. Underage possession of alcohol is a Class A misdemeanor. If convicted, the offender faces driver's license suspension for a minimum of six years, fines, and even jail time.

Illinois Zero Tolerance Policy

The legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit in Illinois is 0.08 percent. However, Illinois has a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking. Individuals under the age of 21 are not allowed to drive with any amount of alcohol in their system. Having even just a single drink and then driving can lead to repercussions under Illinois's zero-tolerance laws.


DuPage County juvenile defense attorneyTeens cannot vote or buy cigarettes, and until they turn 18, they cannot enlist in the armed forces. Yet there are crimes they can commit that will send them into the adult court system. If convicted, they face a future with a criminal record, which drastically reduces their opportunities for housing and employment. In short, their lives forever changed. Could this happen to your teen? If you believe there is even the slightest possible chance that your juvenile offender could face this fate, the following information will help you understand how to proceed.

The History of the Juvenile Justice System in Illinois

At one time, teens as young as 15 could be automatically referred to adult court – and not just in Illinois. Many states were uncertain of how to handle teen offenders, and they reasoned that harsher penalties would keep crime rates down. Unfortunately, no one accounted for recidivism rates, which began to drastically increase among teens who had been tried as adults. Then the studies started to pour in. Many indicated teens, who are still mentally and emotionally developing, would be best served through a rehabilitation program.

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