Under the Zero Tolerance policy, the Illinois Secretary of State will automatically suspend the license of any driver under age 21, who has been caught drinking or even carrying open alcohol in the passenger compartment of their car. You need not be anywhere close to the .08 breathalyzer limit to lose your license. Any trace of alcohol in your system is enough, even a .01 reading.

You may also lose your license for having open alcohol in the passenger section of your car, even if the bottle wasn’t yours. If it is your bottle, you face a charge of illegal possession. But if it is not, you can still be charged with illegal transportation, causing the loss of your license for 12 months on a first offense.

If you are under the age of 21 and have been charged with an alcohol-related crime, you should immediately seek the advice of an attorney. You may be able to contest the charges against you. Maybe the officer lacked the probable cause to pull you over. Maybe you can negotiate a plea to a lesser offense.

Even if you are convicted of an alcohol-related offense, you may be able to obtain a restricted driving permit. The Secretary of State allows you to request a hearing to determine if you have a sufficient hardship to grant the permit. Primarily, permits are granted to allow you to go to work or to obtain medical care.