CHICAGO (Salvi Law) – With prom season in full swing in the Chicago area, police are on heightened alert for underage drinking. The Chicago law firm Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C. has some important reminders and tips for parents to help keep their teens safe, and themselves out of legal trouble.
Prom is a night when kids are living without boundaries, they think they are adults and are living the night without limits. According to a recent survey by AAA, 41 percent of teens between the ages of 16 and 19 admitted it was highly likely that they – or a friend- would use drugs or alcohol on prom night.
Many parents believe that given the reality that a large percentage of prom-goers will be drinking, hosting a party at their home may provide a safe alternative to having their children sneak around. They believe by having a party at their home, they may be able to ensure that no one drinks too much or gets behind the wheel. However, with the passage of the Social Host Law, parents may find themselves in serious legal trouble if they allow any underage drinking to occur on their watch. These legal troubles could range from jail time to being sued in civil court for financial damages.
“Adults should be aware that law enforcement officials are no longer turning their cheek on social hosts. They are coming down on them hard,” said Jeffrey J. Kroll, partner at Salvi, Schostok & Pritchard P.C.
The passage of the Drug or Alcohol Impaired Minor Responsibility Act in January of 2004 opened the door for social host liability for the first time in Illinois. And in 2013, Illinois passed a Social Host Law that states any adult who knowingly allows underage drinking or provides alcohol to minors can be found guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. If the illegal, underage drinking results in injury or death, the adult could be charged with a Class 4 felony.
Kroll points out there are still a wide range of circumstances which could impact whether parents are held responsible under the law. For example, a person may not be liable if they have taken all reasonable steps to prevent underage drinking from occurring in their home.