Lake County eyes fines for adults hosting underage drinking parties

Updated 4/2/2010 3:02 PM

Parents or other adults could soon face fines for hosting underage drinking parties in unincorporated areas of Lake County.

Penalties would start at $250 for the first violation and would increase to $750 or more for three or more tickets within a 12-month period.


If the county board adopts the ordinance later this month, it would join local communities such as Antioch, Buffalo Grove, Gurnee, Lindenhurst, Mundelein and Round Lake Beach that have adopted social hosting ordinances. Many other towns are drafting such rules, including Barrington Hills, North Barrington and Tower Lakes, officials said.

The county proposal, which is set to be discussed Tuesday by the board's law and judicial committee, aims to hold any adult accountable for events where minors are drinking or using drugs.

The goal is to curb underage drinking, said county board member Audrey Nixon, who leads the law and judicial committee.

"Hopefully it will save some young people's lives," said Nixon, a North Chicago Democrat.

The proposal covers events at houses, apartments, hotels, parks and other locales.

Violations would be considered local-ordinance crimes. Jail time is not an option.

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Parents or other adults won't be charged if they take "reasonable steps" to prevent the possession or consumption of alcohol or illegal drugs at a gathering. Likewise, charges won't be filed if adults end an event once they become aware of illegal drug use or drinking.

It would not apply to drinking that occurs as part of a religious ceremony.

The ordinance would also punish adults who allow underage guests under the influence of drugs or alcohol to drive away from a gathering.

Adults won't be charged if they call the police or confiscate an underage guest's keys, the document states.

The law and judicial committee will discuss the proposal when it meets Tuesday, April 6. The meeting is set for 11 a.m. at the county government center, 18 N. County St., Waukegan.

The full board could vote on the proposal April 13.