States across the country have enacted stringent laws to curb underage alcohol use, particularly with regard to underage drunk driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 17 percent of drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 involved in fatal motor vehicles had a blood alcohol content of higher than 0.08%, which is the legal limit, and one in five teen drivers involved in fatal crashes had some alcohol in their system. On one national survey, 22 percent of teens reported that during a single month, they rode in a vehicle with a driver who had been drinking alcohol. In the same survey, 10 percent of students who drove reported having driven after drinking alcohol within the same month. Of the male drivers between 15 and 20 years old who were involved in a fatal car crash during a single year, 25 percent were found to have been drinking alcohol.
One of these underage drunk-driving laws is a zero-tolerance provision. These zero-tolerance statutes, which have been passed in one form or another in every state, prohibit anyone under the age of 21 from driving with any measurable blood alcohol content. The National Transportation Safety Board reports that in all fifty states, DC, Puerto Rico, and U.S. Territories, these zero-tolerance statutes provide for a period of extended license suspension or revocation. These provisions also include a period of loss of driving privileges without exemption, in addition to any criminal sanctions that a state legislature may specify. If you or a loved one is facing a DUI charge in the Chicago Metropolitan Area, you should seek the assistance of an experienced criminal defense law firm such as the Law Offices of David L. Freidberg, P.C.Illinois Zero-Tolerance Statute for Underage Drinking
Section 11-501.8 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes, Chapter 625, Part 5 (625 ILCS 5/11-501.8) contains Illinois’ zero-tolerance statute for underage drinking. It states that individuals who are less than 21 years old and who drive or are in actual physical control of a motor vehicle, shall:
- Be deemed to have provided consent to a chemical, blood, breath, or urine test for determining his or her blood alcohol content, if arrested by a police officer who has probable cause that the driver has consumed any amount of alcohol;
- Be warned by the law enforcement officer requesting a blood alcohol test that refusal to submit to the test, or submission to the test resulting in a blood alcohol concentration level of more than 0.00, may result in the loss of that person’s driving privileges and in his or her disqualification from operating a commercial motor vehicle;
- Acknowledge, in writing, receipt of the warning required by the statute, and if such acknowledgment is refused, the law enforcement officers shall make a written notation on the warning that the person refused to sign it;
If an individual either refuses to submit to a test or is tested and is shown to have a blood alcohol concentration of more than 0.00, then the law enforcement officer is required to submit a sworn report to the Illinois Secretary of State certifying one or the other. Once the Secretary receives the sworn report, the individual’s driver’s license will be suspended for a period of time provided by Section 6-208.1 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes, Chapter 625, Part 5 (625 ILCS 6/6-208.1) as follows:
- For driving with a blood alcohol content of more than 0.00, a first offense carries a three-month driver’s license suspension and for a second offense, a one-year suspension.
- For refusing a law enforcement officer’s request to submit to an alcohol test, a first violation will result in a six-month driver’s license suspension and, for a second violation, a one-year suspension.
According to the Illinois State Department, 931 drivers under the age of 21 were suspended from driving for having a BAC of more than 0.00 or for refusing to undertake chemical alcohol testing. 2,233 underage drivers were arrested for DUI and received suspensions.Underage DUI Conviction and Penalties
Pursuant to Section 6-208 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes, Chapter 625, Part 5 (625 ILCS 5/6-208), any individual in Illinois who drives or takes actual physical control of any vehicle is guilty of driving under the influence if he or she:
- Has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or more;
- Is under the influence of alcohol or any intoxicating compound or drug that renders the person incapable of safely driving; or
- Has any amount of a drug, substance or compound in his or her breath, blood, or urine resulting from the unlawful use or consumption of cannabis
Individuals under 21 years of age who are convicted of a DUI will be subject to a minimum 2-year revocation of their driver’s license. They may also be subject to, at most, one year of imprisonment and fines of up to $2,500. A second conviction of the same offense will result in a minimum 5-year license revocation and a mandatory minimum imprisonment of five days or 240 hours of community service. It may also result in up to one year of jail time and up to a $2,500 fine.
A DUI may be considered a felony, with corresponding harsher penalties, if any of the following aggravating factors is present, among others:
- The person has been convicted of a DUI for the third or subsequent time (Class 2 felony);
- The person convicted of a DUI was involved in a vehicle accident that resulted in great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement to another (Class 4 felony);
- The person caused the death of another person (Class 2 felony); or
- The person convicted of a DUI did not have a valid license, permit or insurance (Class 4 felony).
Additionally, a judge, as a condition of probation or discharge, may order underage individuals convicted of a DUI to take part in the Youthful Intoxicated Driver’s Visitation Program. The youth offender will complete a comprehensive counseling session before the visitation to determine if his or her participation is appropriate. If a youth offender is approved to participate, then he or she may be sent on a supervised visit to a location where the results of alcoholism or DUI accidents may be seen, which includes:
- A rehabilitation facility that cares for individuals injured as a result of a crash involving alcohol;
- A facility that treats and cares for alcoholics; or
- The office of the coroner.
Illinois has a complex scheme for enforcing zero-tolerance of underage drinking and driving and corresponding penalties that result in suspension of driving privileges. This must be considered in addition to the existing statutory provisions governing DUI criminal prosecution and penalties, which include possible jail time and thousands of dollars in fines. If you are under 21 years of age or have a youth in your life that is facing the harsh potential penalties associated with underage drinking prosecution and conviction in the Chicago metropolitan area, you should seek the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney. The Law Offices of David L. Freidberg, P.C. can advocate for your rights and work to achieve the best outcome in your case. You should contact us immediately by emailing us or completing our online form for a free initial consultation. You may also call our Chicago office at (312) 560-7100 or toll-free at (800) 803-1142. We are available 24/7.