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Waukegan looks at its own social-host law

Waukegan's decisiissue one-day exemptifor ban beachfront alcohol was geared only for beer garden Mosquitoe Gallery Art Music Fest Stiner Paviliwhich

Waukegan's decision to issue a one-day exemption for the ban on beachfront alcohol was geared only for a beer garden at the Mosquitoe Gallery Art and Music Fest at the Stiner Pavilion, which will only serve customers paying a $10 admission fee. | AP file

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Updated: February 3, 2013 6:16AM



WAUKEGAN ­­— With the state enacting a social-host law on New Year’s Day, the City Council is slated to review a local version of the measure that would include a civil fine of at least $750 per offense for adults who allow parties that involve underage drinking or use of drugs.

The proposed local ordinance, scheduled to be discussed by the council’s judiciary committee on Jan. 7, goes beyond the state statute’s language of fines “not less than $500.” The primary provision of the state law is establishing criminal liability for hosting parties with underage drinking or drug use, including class 4 felony charges for adults who knowingly host a party with underage consumption that results in death or injury.

The local ordinance otherwise mirrors the state measure, which was approved by the General Assembly in May and signed by Gov. Pat Quinn in August. The chief sponsors were state Rep. Carol Sente, D-Vernon Hills, and state Sen. Susan Garrett, D-Lake Forest. Among the language that could be entered in the Waukegan ordinance book:

An “event” or “gathering” is defined as “any group of three or more persons who have assembled or gathered together for a social occasion or other activity,” while to act as a host is “to aid, conduct, allow, entertain, organize, supervise, control, or permit a gathering or event.”

Events in question can take place in “any home, yard, farm, field, land, apartment, condominium, hotel or motel room, or other dwelling unit, or a hall or meeting room, park, or any other place of assembly, public or private, whether occupied on a temporary or permanent basis.”

It is unlawful for any person to “permit, allow, host or fail to take reasonable steps to prevent” a gathering where “illicit drugs are consumed by any person or where alcoholic beverages are consumed by an underage person if such person either knows or reasonably should know” that the activity is taking place. The host does not have to be on the premises to be liable.

Hosts are not liable if they have requested assistance from police to remove “any person who refuses to abide by the host’s performance of the duties,” or if they either terminate or “have taken all reasonable steps” to end the gathering.

The new provisions also do not apply to conduct “involving the use of alcoholic beverages that occurs at a religious ceremony or exclusively between an underage person and his or her parent or legal guardian, as permitted by Illinois state law.”

The state statute went into effect at midnight on Jan. 1. If the Waukegan proposal emerges from committee, it could go before the full council for passage later this month.

The social-host law comes more than six years after the October 2006 deaths of two 18-year-olds in a crash following an underage drinking party in Deerfield, an incident that led to the criminal prosecution of two adult hosts on misdemeanor charges.



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