In Illinois, consumption of alcohol by a minor would be a Class C misdemeanor
. It's got a maximum jail penalty of 30 days and/or a fine of up to $500. Additionally, it will give you a criminal record
Though it's certaiinly in your favor that your BAC wasn't taken, it is not a foregone conclusion that you couldn't be convicted of this offense. If you wanted to take the case to trial
and risk the 30-day penalty, the officer would be able to establish that he caught you walking out of the bar, and you can bet the ranch that he will also say that you smelled of alcohol, that your eyes were read, that you were a bit unsteady on your feet and so on. Intoxication
is something that the law does not require an expert or scientific corroboration for. It's well established that just about everyone can tell someone who's been drinking when they see him.
But your friends are right in that of course you must go in and deny your guilt. When you are arraigned on the charge, pleading NOT GUILTY is the only way that you can keep all of your rights open until you get counseled by an attorney and learn all of your choices. Anything else you plead will result in a conviction and close doors.
In most instances a first arrest of this type will result in an offer of a diversion dispostion. That is where you perform community service, pay fines, attend anti-drinking classes or counseling and are supervised by probation. You can expect random alcohol testing during the period of supervision, but when you finish all of your sentence
the case will be dismissed so that you do not carry a conviction on your record.
Outside of an outright dismissal, which I don't see grounds for in your fact pattern, the diversion disposition would be the best possible outcome. It's not a given that you will be offered this option. You can try to negotiate for something like that with the prosecutor, but your best option would be to show up with a lawyer and let him work out the disposition, or if you want to fight the case, let him handle your defense.
If you don't have money to retain counsel, you can plead not guilty and ask for a public defender to be appointed to you, but in some jurisdication, when the crime is this low level and worth so litle jail time, you may not get one.
So what you could do would be to show up on your court date, plead not guilty, find out what the state is willing to do for you to dispose of the case and, if you like it and you know it will keep your record clean, forego the attorney. If, on the other hand, they are making you a misdemeanor offer, then you could ask for a public defender or ask for an adjournment for you to return to court with private counsel