SPRINGFIELD — Starting in 2013 the state is cracking down on parents or guardians who allow underage drinking on property they own. The new ‘social host law’ takes effect on Tuesday.
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 that, “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.”
New driving laws
Several new driving laws will also take effect Jan. 1, 2013 and motorists need to be aware of the many changes.
• In Illinois use of a cell phone in any work zone is prohibited, the current law only prohibits cell phone use in a work zone with speed limit restrictions. Drivers will also have to put down their cell phone within 500 feet of an emergency scene and commercial drivers are prohibited from using hand-held devices while driving.
• People involved in traffic accidents may move their vehicles to the nearest off-ramp, access road or other safe location following an accident if there is no personal injury.
• A motor vehicle will be subject to seizure and forfeiture if the driver has a suspended or revoked license for a revoked or suspended license in another state for operating the vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol; leaving the scene of a personal injury accident; refusing to submit to alcohol or drug testing; or reckless homicide.
• Drivers may also request that their driver’s license and record contain information about medical conditions that could affect their driving.
Illinois is also focusing on kids in 2013 with law targeted at protecting children.
Illinois will also allow felony prosecution of people who attempt to lure children into their car while they are travelling to or from school.
Starting in January registered sex offenders will be prohibited from participating in holiday events, by dressing up as Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny or handing out candy at Halloween.
Illinois is expecting to collect an estimated $32 million through a $2 increase in fees starting in July at the earliest. Vehicle licenses, off highway vehicle stamps, increased fishing fees, watercraft fees and park entrance fees for non-residents will all see the fee increase.
• The Debtors Bill will also take effect Jan. 1 requiring debt collectors to give debtors proper notice and an opportunity to show an inability to pay the debt.
Active duty service members and National Guard members who have been called to duty by the Governor for more than 30 days will see extended benefits starting in the New Year.
Additional benefits include the right to terminate a residential property lease, protection from property repossession on installment contracts and adjustment to a loan obligation in foreclosure proceedings. Those protections are currently available to service members who are called to duty by the President and are extending to members who are called up to service from the Governor.