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September 22, 2009

College-age Drinking Prompts State-wide Forum
Stakeholders seek ways to reduce under-age access to alcohol

SPRINGFIELD – Representatives from universities, law enforcement agencies, local governments and local businesses throughout Illinois came together today in search of real solutions to the often thorny issue of reducing underage drinking in university communities.  Hosted by the Illinois Liquor Control Commission (ILCC), this summit meeting was called after several communities expressed concerns about the conflicting interests of ILCC and local law enforcement agencies and the needs of struggling restaurants and taverns and the communities’ reliance on business tax revenues. 

“There was progress at today’s meeting.  By agreeing that all of us thrive when we meet our responsibilities to keep our kids safe, we can move on to ways to accomplish that goal,” said Liquor Control Commissioner Stephen Schnorf.  “We rolled up our sleeves and talked frankly about how to work together to reduce underage drinking and over-consumption of alcohol for this at-risk age group.”

“To get control over the deadly problem of underage drinking, the summit brought all of the stakeholders together to find ways to meet their responsibilities that make sense for the communities and the businesses dependent on college populations ,” said Lainie Krozel, Executive Director of the ILCC.  “We are looking for compliance, not violations.”

The meeting’s format was designed to encourage a candid exchange of ideas. Attendees shared their experiences on drinking issues that directly affected their community’s economic, safety and college learning environments.  Opening remarks at the summit were delivered by Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White.  Commander Luis Tigera, Illinois State Police and Director Michael Stout, Illinois Department of Transportation’s Division of Traffic Safety also participated.   A copy of the attendees can be found at www.tax.illinois.gov.

As a result of today’s meeting, participants agreed that there are unique challenges with enforcement in college communities, given the disproportionately large number of 18-20 year olds.  Law enforcement officials resolved to continue the Campus Tap and undercover underage drinking enforcement activities.  Enforcement actions could result in minimum $500 fines for a bar that sells alcohol to a person under 21.  The licensee may be subject to suspension or revocation. Any individual caught selling alcohol to a minor will be subject to criminal prosecution by local authorities.


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