Proposed state law targets adults who allow underage drinking

March 14, 2011

by City Room and Luke Runyon

(Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Adults in Illinois who let teenagers drink alcohol could face tougher laws even if that adult isn't related. The Illinois House of Representatives has voted to penalize any adult who knows of underage drinking. That means anyone who owns property, whether it's a warehouse, abandoned building or empty field, could face a felony conviction if they knew kids were drinking there.

Democratic State Rep. Carol Sente said parents need to crackdown on underage drinking, a problem she calls an epidemic. Property owners could be convicted even if they aren't present when the teens are partying. Sente says her proposal targets people who suspect teens are drinking on their property, but do nothing to stop it.

"They would see a keg walked through their house to go down to the basement," Sente said. "The neighbor may call and notify them that they feel like something's occurring in their home."

Republican State Rep. Chapin Rose said the legislation is unfair to landlords in college towns.

"I could make the argument at a college town that if I lease a property to a college kid, I reasonably should have known that beer would be consumed there," Rose said.

The measure easily passed the House. It now moves to the state Senate.