NEW ILLINOIS DRINKING LAW OFFERS 911 IMMUNITY TO MINORS
On January 1, 2016, a new law took effect that offers immunity to underage drinkers who call 911 for medical assistance after they or their friend has had too much to drink. The law is designed to make it easier for teens to place an emergency call, in hopes of reducing the number of alcohol-related hospitalizations and deaths caused by underage drinking.
The House Bill 1336 was signed into law last year. Sponsored by Rep. Scott Drury, D-Highwood, Drury told the Chicago Tribune the story of a teenager and his friend who were in need of medical assistance but reluctant to call for help. When someone finally did, the kids were cited for underage drinking. The parents pointed out that teens in that situation who made a mistake needed protection from medical harm rather than discouragement from seeking medical attention.
The article also reported a statistic from the Illinois Department of Public health indicating there were nine alcohol-induced deaths in Illinois of people under the age of 21 from 2008-2012. However, this did not include deaths in which alcohol was involved, such as fatal car crashes.
The current laws on teen drinking in Illinois state that possession, consumption, purchase, or receipt of alcohol by an individual under the age of 21 years of age can result in a 3-month suspension of driving privileges for court supervision, six months for the first conviction, one year for second conviction, and license revocation for subsequent convictions. With such steep penalties, it’s no wonder teens are reluctant to reach out in an emergency situation!
To receive immunity, the following conditions must be met:
(1) the law enforcement officer has contact with that person because the person requested medical assistance for an individual who reasonably appeared to be in need of medical assistance due to alcohol consumption;
(2) the person provided his or her full name and any other relevant information to the law enforcement officer;
(3) the person remained at the scene with the individual needing medical assistance until emergency medical assistance personnel arrived; and
(4) the person cooperated with emergency medical assistance personnel and law enforcement officers at the scene.
It should also be noted that the law was designed to protect the minor seeking medical attention for him/herself or another minor in a life-threatening, alcohol-related incident. Police called to a scene have the power to cite other underage drinkers who are present and not in need of medical attention.
While the law itself can be instrumental in helping prevent underage drinking fatalities, more young people need to be aware of HR Bill 1336 for it to become effective in saving lives. Please spread the news to the young people in your life so that if they are ever in the position to help another or even themselves with a simple 911 phone call, they will not hesitate because they have been drinking illegally. And if ever you feel that your rights in this manner have been violated, please contact us for a consultation at 847.944.9400 or request a free case evaluation below.