Beginning Jan. 1, parents and guardians can be fined up to $2,000 if they allow those under 21 to drink in vehicles, trailers, campers or boats under their ownership or control. And if a death occurs as a result, parents or guardians can be charged with a felony.
The legislation expands the current state law, which penalizes adults who allow underage people to drink alcohol in their homes. It was sponsored in the Senate by Julie Morrison, a Deerfield Democrat, who remembers a fatal accident in 2006 involving teenagers who were her children’s age.
Daniel Bell of Bannockburn and Ross Trace of Riverwoods, both 18, were killed after leaving a house party in Deerfield when their car slammed into a tree. Bell, the driver, had a blood-alcohol level of .132, above the .08 driving limit.
“It was one of the most horrific things that ever happened in our sleepy little town,” Morrison said.
The new law, Morrison says, “tightens up some of the loopholes” in the earlier legislation that bans adults from allowing children to drink in their homes.
Republican state Sen. Pam Althoff, who worked on the original legislation, said it became clear in recent years that law enforcement agencies “were dealing with not only the situation of teenage vehicular homicides but also many accidents that were occurring on lakes and rivers.”