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Underage Possession or Consumption of Alcohol

In 2014, the Iowa legislature enacted new legislation related to the underage possession or consumption of alcohol which is sometimes called “minor in possession” of alcohol. 

This new legislation amends Iowa Code section 123.47 to specify that a person under legal age (under 21) in Iowa is prohibited from consuming alcoholic liquor, wine, or beer, subject to certain exceptions. Under the following circumstances, exceptions apply for a “minor in possession of alcohol” including:

  • if consumed in a private home with the knowledge, presence, and consent of the underage person’s parent or guardian;
  • for beverage or medicinal purposes or as administered to the person by either a physician or dentist for medicinal purposes; and
  • to the extent that a person under legal age may handle alcoholic beverages, wine, and beer during the regular course of the person’s employment by a liquor control licensee, or wine or beer permittee under Iowa Code chapter 123. 

If you were cited for being in possession of alcohol before your 21st birthday then contact the criminal defense attorneys at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C.. We represent high school and college students throughout Polk County and the surrounding areas. Call (515) 279-9700 to discuss your best defenses and fights to fight for an outright dismissal of the charges.

Penalties for Underaged Possession of Alcohol

The penalties for the underaged possession of alcohol depend on the number of prior convictions for the same offense. Those penalties include:  

  • For a first offense, a person who is 18, 19, or 20, who consumes alcoholic liquor, wine, or beer in violation of the law commits a “simple misdemeanor” punishable as a scheduled violation under Iowa Code section 805.8C(7). 
  • For a second offense, a person commits a simple misdemeanor punishable by a  fine of $500. 
  • For a third or subsequent offense, the person commits a simple misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $500 and suspension of the person’s motor vehicle operating privileges for up to one year.

Permitting Underaged Consumption of Alcohol

The new legislation provides that a person who is the owner or lessee of, or who otherwise has control over, property that is not a licensed premises, shall not knowingly permit any person, knowing or having reasonable cause to believe the person to be under the age of 18, to consume or possess an alcoholic beverage on such property. 

A person who violates this provision commits a simple misdemeanor for a first offense, punishable as a scheduled violation with a fine of $200, and a simple misdemeanor for a second or subsequent offense, punishable by a $500  fine. This provision does not apply to a landlord or manager of the property or to a person under legal age who consumes or possesses any alcoholic liquor, wine, or beer in connection with a religious observance, ceremony, or rite. 

Liquor Law Violations in Iowa

Liquor law violations in Des Moines, Iowa, can include the following:

  • drinking on a train or public conveyance
  • using a vehicle for illegal transportation of liquor;
  • furnishing liquor to a minor or intemperate person;
  • operating a still;
  • bootlegging;
  • maintaining unlawful drinking places; and
  • the manufacture, sale, transporting, furnishing, possessing of intoxicating liquor.