Attorney Eric D. Puryear

Alcohol and Minors Charges in Iowa (Persons under eighteen years of age, persons eighteen, nineteen, or twenty years of age, and persons twenty-one years of age and older)

Puryear Law » Legal Blog » Iowa Criminal Law » Alcohol and Minors Charges in Iowa (Persons under eighteen years of age, persons eighteen, nineteen, or twenty years of age, and persons twenty-one years of age and older)

Under Iowa Code Section 123.47, it is unlawful for a person to give or sell alcohol to a minor, or for a minor to possess alcohol:


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1. A person shall not sell, give, or otherwise supply alcoholic liquor, wine, or beer to any person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that person to be under legal age.

2. A person or persons under legal age shall not purchase or attempt to purchase, or individually or jointly have alcoholic liquor, wine, or beer in their possession or control; except in the case of liquor, wine, or beer given or dispensed to a person under legal age within a private home and with the knowledge, presence, and consent of the parent or guardian, for beverage or medicinal purposes or as administered to the person by either a physician or dentist for medicinal purposes and except 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 this chapter.

3. a. A person who is eighteen, nineteen, or twenty years of age, other than a licensee or permittee, who violates this section regarding the purchase of or attempt to purchase alcoholic liquor, wine, or beer, or possessing or having control of alcoholic liquor, wine, or beer, commits the following:


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(1) A simple misdemeanor punishable as a scheduled violation under section 805.8C, subsection 7.

(2) A second offense shall be a simple misdemeanor punishable by a fine of five hundred dollars. In addition to any other applicable penalty, the person in violation of this section shall choose between either completing a substance abuse evaluation or the suspension of the person’s motor vehicle operating privileges for a period not to exceed one year.

(3) A third or subsequent offense shall be a simple misdemeanor punishable by a fine of five hundred dollars and the suspension of the person’s motor vehicle operating privileges for a period not to exceed one year.


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b. The court may, in its discretion, order the person who is under legal age to perform community service work under section 909.3A, of an equivalent value to the fine imposed under this section.

c. If the person who commits a violation of this section is under the age of eighteen, the matter shall be disposed of in the manner provided in chapter 232.

4. Except as otherwise provided in subsections 5 and 6, a person who is of legal age, other than a licensee or permittee, who sells, gives, or otherwise supplies alcoholic liquor, wine, or beer to a person who is under legal age in violation of this section commits a serious misdemeanor punishable by a minimum fine of five hundred dollars.

5. A person who is of legal age, other than a licensee or permittee, who sells, gives, or otherwise supplies alcoholic liquor, wine, or beer to a person who is under legal age in violation of this section which results in serious injury to any person commits an aggravated misdemeanor.

6. A person who is of legal age, other than a licensee or permittee, who sells, gives, or otherwise supplies alcoholic liquor, wine, or beer to a person who is under legal age in violation of this section which results in the death of any person commits a class “D” felony.

7. Upon the expiration of two years following conviction for a violation of subsection 2 or of a similar local ordinance, a person may petition the court to expunge the conviction, and if the person has had no other criminal convictions, other than local traffic violations or simple misdemeanor violations of chapter 321 during the two-year period, the conviction shall be expunged as a matter of law. The court shall enter an order that the record of the conviction be expunged by the clerk of the district court. Notwithstanding section 692.2, after receipt of notice from the clerk of the district court that a record of conviction has been expunged for a violation of subsection 2, the record of conviction shall be removed from the criminal history data files maintained by the department of public safety. An expunged conviction shall not be considered a prior offense for purposes of enhancement under subsection 3 or under a local ordinance unless the new violation occurred prior to entry of the order of expungement.

Iowa’s laws concerning the giving or selling of alcohol to a person under 21 years of age are more serious than many other states, with felony charges for instances where there is serious harm as a result of the alcohol misuse by the minor.  Indeed, in cases where a death result, the charge is a Class D felony, punishable by a 5 year term in the Iowa department of corrections (prison).

Iowa law also provides for drivers license penalties for those convicted, which can cause serious problems insofar as transportation to and from school, work, and other places is concerned.  The community service that the court can impose can also be quite a burden upon those convicted in Iowa.

In addition, those who have a liquor license can risk a loss of their license if convicted of selling alcohol to a minor.  Often that potential loss of income – to include the total loss of the ability to operate their business – can be the most significant harm when charged when selling alcohol to a minor in Iowa.

For all those reasons, a person facing a charge related to alcohol and minors is well advised to seek an attorney, and it is important to handle the case properly.


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