Proposed Bill Could Lower Drinking Age in Illinois With Parental Consent

A proposed bill in Illinois could soon lower the state’s drinking age with parental consent.

The proposal would allow people 18 and older to be served wine or beer at restaurants with their parents’ permission.

Ten states already have such provisions in their drinking laws, including Connecticut, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, Ohio, Texas, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Supporters argue the proposal simply leaves the decision up to the parents, but critics worry the bill sends “mixed messages to our youth.”

The Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists said it is urging lawmakers “not to erase years of progress that has encouraged many adolescents to make positive choices and thrive in their community.”

“Numerous health and safety related coalitions have worked tirelessly to support parents across the country to positively influence young people to remain alcohol-free until age 21 in hope to decrease and prevent negative incidents related to under drinking, including impaired driving,” the alliance said in a statement.

According to the American Medical Association, alcohol takes a greater toll on brain development for those under 21.

“Findings indicate that adults would have to consume twice as many drinks to suffer the same damage as adolescents and that even occasional heavy drinking injures young brains,” the group wrote in a 2002 report.

Reps. Barbara Wheeler and Kelly Burke, who sponsor the bill, could not immediately be reached for comment.

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