A proposed Illinois bill would make it legal for individuals under the age of 21 to legally consume alcohol in bars and restaurants if they are in the company of their approving parents or legal guardian.
It may sound like an odd law, but it’s been on the books in Wisconsin for a number of years. Now, Illinois is considering adopting a similar law. Not surprisingly, the proposal is being met with support and opposition.
“I honestly think it’s a bad idea,” says bar and restaurant owner Andy Rio. “We have customers that are 21 and can’t even handle their alcohol. We’re totally 100 percent against something like that.”
Rio added that it may be hard to police who is someone’s parent or guardian, so he wary of the proposal.
“How do you know that’s their parent? It could be an older friend, someone from the neighborhood. I think it’s going to be very hard to police and regulate,” said Rio.
Some In Favor
However, not everyone looks down on the law. Illinois State Representative Joe Sosnowski says the proposal has some merit.
“It’s an interesting proposed piece of legislation,” he says. “If they’re out to eat and they want to let them have a small glass of wine, or a taste of wine, I don’t think that’s a concept too many parents would have concern with.”
The legislation reads that individuals under the age of 21 would be able to consume alcohol at restaurants that serve alcohol if they are in the presence of their parent or legal guardian, who approves of the consumption. Alcohol consumption would only be legal at restaurants that serve alcohol, and not stand-alone bars. The measure will head to the House, and should it be approved, it will go before the Senate and ultimately Gov. Bruce Rauner.
Wisconsin Has Similar Law
Wisconsin has a similar law on the books that allows underage individuals to drink with their legal-aged parent or spouse, but the establishment ultimately has final say in whether or not they decide to serve the underage patron.
It’s an interesting law to consider. It seems like the proposal would need to be amended to give restaurants the right to refuse service to underage patrons, but there is some merit to letting children experience alcohol in a safe setting before they head off to college or move out after high school. Letting them see some of the effects of alcohol in a safe setting can help establish responsible drinking behaviors, but it needs to be carefully regulated by the parents, otherwise it could spiral out of control. We don’t think this bill will get passed, at least in its current form, but we’ll be tracking it as it makes its way to the House.