IL: Illinois Unveils New Law Targeting Providers of Alcohol to Underage Drivers
By: Wojciech Zylm
January 3, 2024
Illinois has ushered in a new era of road safety with a landmark legislation, aimed squarely at curbing the menace of underage drinking and driving. The law, known as House Bill 1155, came into effect on January 1, 2024, and introduces civil penalties for private individuals who supply alcohol or drugs to underage drivers on residential properties. Prior to this, only those who provided substances at non-residential locations were liable to be sued.
Turning the Tide on Underage Drinking
The new law is a significant step towards addressing the problem of underage drinking, which according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, is involved in one out of four fatal teen car accidents. By expanding the reach of civil penalties, the legislation enables families affected by accidents involving intoxicated minors to seek justice against those who supplied the alcohol or drugs.
Law Enforcement and Leadership Support
Leading law enforcement officials, including Winnebago County Sheriff Gary Caruana and Major Ashlyn Fernandes of the Sheriff’s correction department, have voiced their support for the changes. Both believe that the new law could make a significant difference in preventing deaths caused by minors under the influence. The state’s Secretary of State, Alexi Giannoulias, further emphasized the importance of these laws in making Illinois’ roads among the safest in the country.
Seeking Justice under the New Law
For families to succeed in court under the new law, they must demonstrate that the providers of alcohol ‘willfully permitted consumption’ on their premises. Moreover, lawsuits must be filed within two years of the incident. This legislation, which passed in July 2023, adds to Illinois’ existing measures to reduce impaired and distracted driving, which have been recognized nationally.
As the state of Illinois rings in the new year with this monumental law, it reiterates its commitment to ensuring the safety of its residents, particularly the youth, and sends a powerful message to those who may enable underage drinking and driving.