An 18-year-old is a legal adult but, as far as Illinois law is concerned, remains an alcohol-buying and consuming minor until 21. There are a few exceptions to state law that allow 18- to 20-year-olds to drink alcohol. Minors may drink alcohol for religious purposes and at home – not in bars or alcohol-serving restaurants – with parental consent.
Under state laws enacted this year, drinking-age adults who permit minors to consume alcohol on their property can be arrested and charged with a crime. The crime becomes a felony when a minor gets behind the wheel and causes an injury accident or fatal crash.
Injured minors or their parents, in cases when victims are under 18, can file claims against the property owner. Anyone hurt in an accident caused by a minor under the influence may also file a social host liability lawsuit for damages.
Authorities in Central Illinois arrested and jailed a 19-year-old Normal driver. A preliminary coroner’s report said an 18-year-old male passenger suffered fatal neck and head injuries after the driver’s car veered off the road and hit a utility pole. An unidentified, second male passenger was hospitalized with injuries.
The teen driver told authorities he had been at a party where he smoked marijuana and drank beer. McLean County officials said the defendant’s blood alcohol level was above 0.10 percent, beyond the limit even for drivers old enough to drink legally.
Police filed aggravated DUI charges against the teen. Investigators made no other immediate arrests, although they hinted charges against third-parties could be possible depending on the course of the ongoing investigation.
A plaintiff harmed by an underage drinker, or indirectly by a negligent property owner who furnished alcohol to minors, may request compensation. A settlement or damage award may cover current or future medical expenses, a victim’s pain and suffering and, in wrongful death cases, a family’s financial and emotional losses.
pantagraph.com, “Police seek answers in DUI fatal crash” No author given, Nov. 11, 2013