Lots of laws have loopholes and Illinois' drinking age has one for sure.

Back before the earth's crust cooled, millions of years ago, turning 21 was fun. I went to Margaritaville for mine. For the first few years of the "officially legal" privilege, you're excited to be carded at the bars (then you get old and it becomes a compliment if it even happens at all).


The minimum legal drinking age is of course 21, according to the CDC. The age to buy alcohol is 21. Despite knowing this full well, a lot of us likely had a drink at some point before we were 21.

Penalties For Underage Drinking In Illinois

Before we get into the loophole in the law, let's review some of the problems you could run into not only if you're underage and drinking but if you help an underage kid drink.

Underage drinking offenses could be a Class A misdemeanor. According to Illinois.gov, that could come with a year in jail and fines ranging from $500-$2,500.


The Specific Loophole

According to Stephen Brundage Lawpeople over 18 but under 21 CAN drink if they are in CULINARY SCHOOL.

Mind you, the law says that the students can't get smashed from the booze ("imbibed" as the state calls it) but a student can try it, just to get a vibe of the flavor pairing it has with a dish. The law firm says it this way:

If you are older than 18 but younger than 21, you can taste, but not imbibe, alcohol if you are a student attending a scheduled course and under the supervision of an instructor who is older than 21 during an educational program. The program, though, must be operated by an accredited school by the Department of Education or has state approval by the Board of Higher Education.

Now that too has some stipulations. Illinois law says that a student can taste alcohol up to six times per class but no more. The alcohol also has to stay with the instructor when the class ends.

That loophole applies not only to culinary school but to young people going into food service, fermentation science, or restaurant programs where they will be serving alcohol to customers. Again though, all of these have to be state-approved programs or facilities.

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