Under Illinois law, a licensed driver under the age of 21 (hereinafter “youthful offender”; “minor” is not the correct term because the age of majority in Illinois is 21) faces additional issues when alcohol or drug use enters the legal system.
Starting with the offense of Driving Under the Influence (also known as DUI, DWI or drunk driving), any driver who is arrested for DUI will be asked to submit to a chemical test (either breath or alcohol) to determine the Blood Alcohol Level (BAL). The results of the test are admissible to prove the offense of DUI with a BAL of .08 or higher. (625 ILCS 5/11-501.2)
This type of DUI does not require proof of intoxication. The act of operating a vehicle with an excessive BAL is in and of itself a crime. (625 ILCS 5/11-501) However, as a practical matter, a jury may be reluctant to convict a driver of DUI when, other than the BAL reading, the driver appears to be sober.
This argument does not help a youthful offender. They are subject to the “zero tolerance” (ZT) law. The ZT law provides that a youthful offender who has an alcohol reading above zero is in automatic violation of the ZT law. The state need not present evidence that the driver was impaired. Or that the driver’s BAC was a specific level as long as it is above zero.
And the youthful offender does not have a right to contest the ticket in court. This can only occur in a hearing with the Secretary of State in which the issues are extremely narrow:
(1) whether the police officer had probable cause to believe that the person was driving or in actual physical control of a motor vehicle
(2) whether the person was issued a Uniform Traffic Ticket
(3) whether the police officer had probable cause to believe that the driver had consumed any amount of an alcoholic beverage
(4) whether the person refused or if not a refusal, whether the person registered above 0.00 (625 ILCS 11-501.8)
A ZT offense only results in a suspension of the youthful offenders’ driver’s license for 3 months if there is a test and six months for refusing. There are no criminal penalties and once the suspension terminates, the Secretary of State will restore driving privileges. If it’s a second offense, the suspension runs for one year for a test and two years for a refusal.
On the other hand, a youthful offender who is convicted of DUI is subject to a driver’s license revocation for two years. During the first year, the youthful offender cannot apply for any driving relief but may apply for a restricted driving permit during the second year.
A ticket for a violation of the Liquor Control Act of 1934 will also have driver’s license consequences. This covers all the under-aged drinking offenses. A conviction leads to a driver’s license suspension for six months even though the offender was not driving. A disposition for court supervision will cause a suspension for three months. 625 ILCS 5/6-206
A youthful offender found in possession of a driver’s license of someone over the age of 21 is likely to lose his or her driver’s license for one year. Here again, driving is not necessary for the suspension to apply.
If I am under 21, is it legal in Illinois to drink as long as I am not drunk? September 12, 2012, Illinois DUI Lawyer Blawg
Cook County driver and passenger cited for alcohol-related offenses February 17, 2012, Illinois DUI Lawyer Blawg