House Bill 1155: What Parents Should Know About Changes to Drunk Driving Liability

Dodds Law Office, PC
Underage youth drinking and driving. Drunk driving liability.

House Bill 1155, also known as the Parental Responsibility Law, was recently passed in Illinois with the aim of holding parents and guardians accountable for underage drinking and driving. The legal drinking age is 21-years-old in Illinois. Some parents, however, still allow their teens to consume alcohol, or they do not actively stop them from driving if they suspect they are under the influence. With teenage drunk driving accidents an ongoing problem in the state, Illinois has taken steps to curb underage drinking and driving. The amendments made through House Bill 1155 will change what happens if a minor crashes a car while driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. 

Underage youth drinking and driving. Drunk driving liability.

If your teen faces DUI charges, or you face legal consequences for letting your child get behind the wheel after drinking, contact our Illinois drunk driving lawyer, Terry Dodds, to discuss the best path forward.

Illinois Drunk Driving Statistics for Teenage Drivers

Despite ongoing efforts to reduce these incidents, DUI statistics in Illinois point to underage drunk driving as an ongoing problem. The Illinois Department of Transportation reported that 6% of all drivers involved in fatal accidents across the state were under the age of 21-years-old. Further, among drivers under the age of 21-years-old who were involved in fatal crashes, 19% had a blood alcohol concentration level in excess of the allowed limit for adult drivers.

Why Is Teenage Drunk Driving Dangerous?

For motorists of all ages, getting behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs or alcohol poses a serious risk. For teens, however, the danger may be even greater.

Teenagers’ brains are still developing, and they often have a desire for thrill-seeking activities. Combined with peer pressure and a lack of understanding of the consequences, teens may be more likely to get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol.

Having less experience driving, teenagers may be more prone to errors in judgment and slower reaction times. The effects of alcohol may enhance their inexperience, putting them at a greater risk of causing a collision.

Understanding House Bill 1155

House Bill 1155 amends previous laws related to underage drinking and driving in Illinois. It focuses on clarifying the legal liabilities and responsibilities of parents when it comes to their teenage children’s actions involving alcohol and driving.

Legal Implications for Parents

House Bill 1155 has several legal implications for parents and guardians of teenage drivers in Illinois. One of the most significant implications is the potential for increased liability if their child is involved in a drunk driving incident.

Under the new law, parents can be held financially responsible for damages or injuries caused by their underage child if it is proven that they knowingly allowed the child to drive under the influence of alcohol. Therefore, parents could face lawsuits from victims or those who lost loved ones, and hefty financial penalties, if their child is involved in a drunk driving accident. Through personal injury lawsuits, victims of teenage drunk driving accidents may seek to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other economic and non-economic losses resulting from their injuries.

Additionally, parents may also face criminal charges for allowing their underage child to drive under the influence. While the specifics of these charges can vary depending on the circumstances of the case, they can include charges of contributing to the delinquency of a minor or even child endangerment.

To protect themselves legally, parents should take proactive steps to prevent underage drinking and driving. To this end, parents may talk to their children about the dangers of alcohol, set clear rules and consequences for alcohol use, and ensure that they do not allow their child to drive if they suspect he or she has been drinking.

By understanding the legal implications of House Bill 1155, parents can take the necessary steps to protect themselves and their children from the serious consequences of underage drinking and driving. Parents who face legal action under the amendments made by House Bill 1155 should consult with a DUI attorney to discuss their options.

Intended Effects of Illinois House Bill 1155

The Parental Responsibility Law is intended to have several effects aimed at reducing underage drinking and driving. Some key intended effects of the bill include:

Increased Parental Supervision

By holding parents accountable for their children’s actions involving alcohol and driving, the bill aims to encourage parents to take a more active role in supervising their children and preventing underage drinking.

Deterrence

The bill is designed to deter underage drinking and driving. It aims to do this by making parents aware of the legal and financial consequences they could face if their children are involved in alcohol-related collisions. In putting more responsibility on parents, the intent is that they will take more active roles in ensuring their children do not drink and drive.

Promotion of Responsible Behavior

By clarifying the legal responsibilities of parents and guardians, the bill seeks to promote responsible behavior among teenagers when it comes to alcohol consumption and driving. 

Enhanced Public Safety

Ultimately, the bill aims to enhance public safety by reducing the incidence of drunk driving among teenagers and the associated risks of accidents, injuries, and fatalities.

Overall, House Bill 1155 is intended to protect teenagers, and the public. The law seeks to reduce teenage drunk driving accidents by expanding liability to hold parents accountable for the actions of their teens. It creates a legal responsibility for parents not to allow their teenagers to drink alcohol. Further, it requires them to take action to prevent their kids from getting behind the wheel if they know or suspect they have been drinking.

Steps to Take if Your Teenager Is Charged With DUI

A DUI charge can have significant effects on your teenager now, and in the future. The arrest and conviction may stay on your teen’s record, affecting things such as their education and residential opportunities. Therefore, you should understand the steps to take if your teen is arrested for driving under the influence.

Seeking Legal Counsel

Hire a DUI attorney who has experience defending minors right away. A legal representative will guide your family through the justice system, and advocate on behalf of your teen.

If you face charges under the Parental Responsibility Law, you should also seek legal counsel. The lawyer representing your teen will likely advise that you hire another attorney to handle your case, but they will generally work closely together to address the charges you both face.

Learning About the Charges

Educate yourself about the charges your teen faces, as well as what affects a DUI charge. It will help you guide your teen, and make decisions, if you understand the potential consequences. You may benefit from learning about the penalties of underage DUI convictions, as well as any alternative sentencing options.

Underage DUI Penalties

The penalties for underage DUI can be serious, and have lasting effects on your teen’s future. The exact consequences of a conviction will depend on factors, such as the circumstances of the case, your teen’s BAC level, and whether your teen has a history of alcohol-related offenses.

If convicted of drunk driving, your teen could face penalties including imprisonment, fines, a driver’s license suspension, and community service. Additionally, the court may order alcohol education or treatment classes, the use of ignition interlock devices, or other such interventions.

Supporting Your Teenager

Just as it is for you, this is an upsetting and frightening time for your teenager. Reassure him or her that you will help them through the legal process, and provide emotional support. If an underlying issue contributed to your teen driving under the influence, use the charges as an opportunity to address it.

Attending Court Hearings

Attend the court hearings with your teen and his or her attorney. Stay informed about the case progress, any developments, and the possible options available to your teen to minimize the impact of the charges.

Complying With Court Orders

If the court issues orders, make sure that your teenager complies. For example, the court may require your child to attend alcohol education classes, perform community service, or use an ignition interlock device. Help your teen demonstrate commitment to taking responsibility for his or her actions by following these orders.

In addition to the motivation to keep their children safe, House Bill 1155 incentivizes Illinois parents to take a more active role in ensuring their teenagers do not drink and drive. As a parent, you should take the aforementioned steps, and emphasize the importance of responsible behavior behind the wheel, to help protect your child’s well-being, freedom, and futures.

To discuss your child’s case or to review your options if alleged to have allowed your teen to drive under the influence, contact our Illinois DUI attorney, Terry Dodds.

Attorney Terry Dodds has been protecting the rights of the people of Bloomington, Illinois for over 20 years. Whether you were injured in an accident, or you have been charged with a crime, Terry Dodds can tip the scales of justice in your favor.

Years of Experience: More than 20 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar Admissions:Illinois State Bar Association Missouri State Bar Association McLean County Bar Association