What Happens If a Minor Is in Possession of Alcohol in Iowa?

In Iowa, you must be 21 years of age or older to drink alcohol. If you’re younger than that, it is illegal for you not only to drink alcohol but also to purchase, attempt to purchase, or have in your possession such beverages. If you violate this law, you could be charged with a crime. The penalties you face can be harsh and affect you for years.

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Misdemeanor Charges for a Minor Who Possesses or Consumes Alcohol

Under Iowa Code 123.47, if you are under 21 years of age, it's unlawful for you to misrepresent your age, such as by displaying a fake ID, to purchase or attempt to purchase alcohol. If you do so, or you find other some way of obtaining an alcoholic beverage, and you possess or consume it, you could be charged with a misdemeanor.

In Iowa, the punishments you could face for possessing, purchasing, or consuming alcohol depend on your age and whether or not you have been convicted of the crime before.

If you are 18, 19, or 20 years of age, you could face a simple misdemeanor charge and be penalized as follows:

  • First offense: A $100 fine.
  • Second offense: A $500 fine. Additionally, you must either complete a substance abuse evaluation or have your driving privileges suspended for up to 1 year.
  • Third or subsequent violation: A $500 fine. Your driver's license will also be suspended for a maximum of 1 year.

If you're under 18 years of age and you possess or consume alcohol, the penalties you face will be different than the ones imposed upon persons between 18 and 20 years of age. That's because your matter will be handled in juvenile court. If you are adjudicated delinquent (somewhat similar to being found guilty of an offense in adult court), the judge may place you on probation. Depending on your circumstance, you may also be placed in foster care, residential treatment, or a state institution.

What Happens If Someone Supplies a Minor with Alcohol

If someone gives you alcohol and you're under 21 years of age, the person who gave it to you also faces criminal charges.

They can be charged as follows:

  • With a serious misdemeanor for providing a minor with alcohol. A conviction is punishable by a fine of up to $500.
  • With an aggravated misdemeanor if their actions result in serious injury to another. If they're convicted, they could spend up to 2 years in jail and/or be ordered to pay a fine of up to $6,250.
  • With a class "D" felony if their conduct results in the death of another. This level of offense is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $7,500.

If you've been charged with alcohol possession, our attorneys at Keegan, Tindal & Jaeger can provide the legal defense you need. We help individuals and college students in and around Iowa City, and we will aggressively fight your charge. Call us at (319) 499-5524 or contact us online today.