Iowa Minor in Possession of Alcohol Charges and Penalties

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Iowa has minor in possession (MIP) laws to discourage and punish underage drinking and the possession of alcohol by minors. Those under the age of 21 caught possessing, purchasing or attempting to purchase beer, wine, or liquor will be charged with violating the law and ordered to pay a fine.

Drinking and Possessing Alcohol

It is illegal for any person under the age of 21 to purchase, attempt to purchase or have alcoholic beverages in their possession or under their control in a public. The MIP laws do not prohibit minors from possessing or consuming alcohol under the following conditions:

  •  The alcoholic beverages were given to the underage minor in a private home with the consent of his or her parent or guardian.
  •  A dentist or physician administered the alcoholic beverages for medicinal purposes.
  •  The minor handled alcoholic beverages during the course of his or her employment in a licensed facility.

Penalties for underage possession, purchase, or attempt to purchase include:

  • First Offense— A $200 fine. 
  • Second Offense—A $500 fine. In addition, your driver’s license may be suspended for up to a  year or you may have to complete a substance abuse evaluation.
  • Third of Subsequent Offense—A $500. Your driver’s license will be suspended for up to one year.

At the discretion of the court, you may be ordered to perform community service that is an equivalent value to the fine imposed. The hourly rate will be calculated by the state or federal minimum wage, whichever is higher. The Juvenile Justice system will deal with anyone under the age of 18 who violates this section.

 Iowa Code Annotated Sections 123.47, 805.8C, and 909.3A

Iowa Zero Tolerance For Minors

Drivers under the age of 21 with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .02 % but less than .08% will be subject to the following penalties:

  • First Offense—Your driver’s license will be suspended for 60 days.
  • Second or Subsequent Offense—Your driver’s license will be suspended for 90 days.

Offenders under the age of 21 will not eligible to obtain a temporary restricted license for at least 60 days after the date of revocation.

Drivers with a BAC of .08 or more will face a misdemeanor charge. Penalties include:

  • Jail for at least 48 hours
  • A fine of $1,250
  • 180 day driver’s license suspension

The court may allow you to perform community service in lieu of the fine and it may ask you to complete a substance abuse treatment course.

Iowa Annotated Code Sections 321.J.2, 321J.2A, 321J.12, and 321J.4

Minors Using Fake ID to Obtain Alcohol

Those under the age of 21 who display, alter, or possess a fictitious driver’s license for the purpose of obtaining alcohol will lose their license for up to six months. You will be charged with a simple misdemeanor and ordered to pay a fine of $200. 

Iowa Code Annotated Sections 321.216B and 805.8A4C

Licensed Establishments & Employees Furnishing or Selling Alcohol to Minors

It is against the law for a licensed establishment or its employees to give or sell alcoholic beverages to anyone under the age of 21. It is the duty of the licensed establishment and its employees to use reasonable care in ensuring that the person is of legal drinking age before serving or selling them an alcoholic beverage. Violating this law includes the following penalties:

  • A fine of $1,500 will be imposed for the licensee.
  • A fine of $500 will be imposed for anyone who is employed by the licensee.

Iowa Code Annotated Sections 123.49(2)(h) and 805.8C(2)

Selling Alcohol to Minors -- Criminal Penalties

It is illegal for a business with a liquor license (and those under the employment of a business with a liquor license) to give or sell alcoholic beverages to a person under 21. Here are the penalties:

  • Selling Alcohol to Minors— This is a misdemeanor offense with a fine of $500.
  • Resulting in Serious Bodily Injury—If providing alcohol to the minor results in serious bodily injury to another person, you could be charged with an aggravated misdemeanor. The maximum penalty for this charge is up to two years in prison and a fine of $625 -$6,250.
  • Resulting in Death—If providing alcohol to the minor results in the death of another person, you could be charged with a Class D felony. The punishment for this offense includes up to five years in prison and a fine of $750 to $7,500.

Iowa Code Annotated Sections 123.47(4)(5)(6), 903.1, and 902.9(5)

Selling Alcohol to Minors -- Civil Penalties

The civil penalties for licensed establishments that sell or furnish alcoholic beverages to minors include:

  • First Violation—A $500 fine.  
  • Second Violation Within Two Years—A fine of $1,500 and a 30-day license suspension.
  • Third Violation Within Three Years—A fine of $1,500 and a 60-day license suspension.
  • Fourth Violation Within Three Years—The licensed establishment will have their liquor license revoked.

If the establishment fails to pay the fine its liquor license will be suspended.  Administrative sanctions are imposed against the establishment through an administrative hearing. 

Iowa Code Annotated Section 123.50(3)(a)(b)(c)(d) and 123.39

To learn more about the MIP laws, read Chapter 123, Alcoholic Beverage Control of the Iowa Code. If you are facing MIP charges in Iowa, contact a criminal defense lawyer for legal assistance.

Updated by: , Attorney

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