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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.

For these reasons and more, we highly encourage you to secure legal representation if you’ve been accused of possessing alcohol underaged.

Iowa Defense Lawyer for Underaged Possession of Alcohol

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.. Our criminal defense attorneys have dedicated years to defending their clients accused of all crimes including juveniles. We understand how stressful criminal charges can be for a young person, and want to provide the guidance/information needed to help you move on past this with the least consequences possible.

We represent high school and college students throughout Polk County, Dallas County, and other surrounding areas. Call (515) 279-9700 to discuss your best defenses and fights to fight for an outright dismissal of the charges.

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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.

Additional Resources

Minors & Alcohol | Alcohol Beverages Division — Visit the official website for the State of Iowa’s Alcohol Beverages Division to learn more about the alcohol laws in Iowa related to minors and other underaged people. Access the site to learn the drinking age, penalties for selling to minors, administrative consequences for giving alcohol to a minor as a business and more.

Iowa Underaged Alcohol Laws — Visit the official website for the Iowa Code to read Section 123.47 in order to learn ore about alcohol offenses involving underaged persons. Access the statute to read the elements of the crime, penalties for committing the offense, and penalty enhancements that you may be subject to.


Underaged Possession of Alcohol Lawyer | West Des Moines, IA

If you or someone you know has been arrested for underaged possession of alcohol, we urge you to call McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C.. Our experienced Iowa alcohol crimes lawyers have dedicated decades of their careers defending people from criminal accusations. We have an in-depth understanding of Iowa’s alcohol laws, and if you’re a minor have extensive experience with the juvenile judicial system. Start fighting back against your criminal charges as soon as possible and call McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C..

McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. can be reached at (515) 279-9700 and has offices in West Des Moines, Iowa.