Back to School

Posted on: November 12th, 2014 by Harter Schottland

This time of year marks one of our country’s great migrations– that of college kids leaving their parent’s home and returning to colleges across the country. College kids are more than ready to go, and they are rarely thinking of potential legal problems they could encounter on campus.

However, there are quite a few areas of the law that college kids can find themselves mired in–ones that can have long-term consequences. Many kids, both over 21 and under 21, often do not think twice about borrowing or sharing a drivers’ license. Unfortunately, this is a serious offense. Under the Vehicle Code 625 ILCS 5/6-301 to display or have in your possession a canceled, suspended, revoked or someone else’s real Illinois Driver’s License, or to allow someone else to use your real Illinois Driver’s License is a Class A Misdemeanor with a minimum fine of $500 for a first offense. If you actually go so far as to create a fraudulent license in your name or your image–one that is not made by the Secretary of State– and are found in possession, then 625 ILCS 5/6-301.2 sets out that you can be charged with a Class 4 Felony. Under the Illinois Identification Card Act, if you alter an identification issued by any government entity, you are guilty of a Class 4 Felony with a minimum fine of $500. 15 ILCS 335/14A. Similar to the vehicle code, the Identification Card Act also has penalties for creating identifications that resemble official government identifications. Under 15 ILCS 335/14B the possession, transfer, or manufacture of this fraudulent identification can lead to a Class 4 Felony for a first offense.

Finally, under the Liquor Control Act, 235 ILCS 5/6-20, the possession, alteration, or fraudulent use of an identification card can be a Class A Misdemeanor which is punishable by a fine up to $2,500 and 364 days in the county jail. As an insult to injury with the above potential offenses, if you are found guilty of those offenses, the Illinois Secretary of State will suspend your driver’s license. 625 ILCS 5/6-206.

The above misdemeanors and felonies carry serious consequences beyond the potential jail/prison time and fines. More than likely, you will face arrest, you will be processed and fingerprinted, and if convicted, you may lose your eligibility for federal financial aid, be subject to discipline including expulsion at school, or be prohibited from certain jobs in the future.

On top of the state codes, many municipalities have their own violations of some of the above acts. These violations are generally only punishable by fines. But with college costs so high, no one needs to increase the cost of the college experience.

Many college campuses make is especially tempting for college students to break the rules when they lower the bar entry age to under 21. We hope that with some information, however, students–and those that want to help them–can avoid temptations. If you or a family member or friend finds yourself in a situation involving any of the above legal issues, you should get legal help immediately, since it can result in many unforeseen consequences.

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