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The Legal Consequences of Underage DrinkingUnderage drinking is a common activity among teens in social situations. Even those who do not enjoy drinking may feel pressured to fit in with their peers. Parents understand the dangers of underage drinking but may think of it more as a matter of parental discipline than legal punishment. Possession or consumption of alcohol by someone younger than 21 is a crime in Illinois with serious consequences. The penalties become harsher if the drinking is combined with other offenses, such as driving or using a fake ID.

Possession and Consumption

Underage possession or consumption of alcohol is a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois, punishable by a maximum fine of $2,500 and as long as a year in jail. Jail time is highly unlikely for this offense. The biggest consequence for the teen may be the loss of their driving privileges:

  • Their license will be suspended for three months if they receive court supervision.
  • Their license will be suspended six months for a first offense.
  • Their license will be suspended for a year for a second offense.

Possessing alcohol does not mean that the underage person must be caught holding the alcohol. Having the alcohol nearby and within easy access to them also counts as possession. The exception for underage consumption is if the teen is at home and under the supervision of a parent.

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Illinois fake IDs, Wheaton criminal defense lawyerA new effort is underway to curb use of fake IDs in Illinois. A letter released by Secretary of State Jesse White outlining his office's public awareness campaign has recently been published. While there are no recent changes to the existing law, Secretary White hopes that by emphasizing the risks and consequences of using a fake ID, Illinois will see a reduction in underage drinking and safer citizens.

In the last two years, over 1,200 people have been caught using fake driver’s licenses or identification cards. Their goal may be as simple as getting into bars, said Secretary White, but using or just possessing a fake ID is a serious offense that carries significant penalties. A conviction will result in a one-year suspension of driving privileges, up to three years in prison or 50 hours of community service, and a maximum $25,000 fine. In addition, the individual may face charges related to fraud and identity theft, which could potentially remain on the person’s record indefinitely.

The Office of the Secretary of State also reminds Illinois residents that by seeking to obtain a fake ID, individuals place themselves in danger of falling victim to identity theft as well. Secretary White noted that the internet has made getting a fake ID easier than ever, but can easily result in identifying information ending up in the hands of rather unethical people. The price a person pays for a fake ID can go extend far beyond the nominal fee if the supplier, who is already participating in one illegal activity, then uses the personal information in ways regularly associated with identity theft.

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