Proposed law aimed at halting underage drinking parties in Iowa

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The Iowa Senate voted 48-0 to approve new penalties against adults caught allowing underage drinking on their property.

Iowa’s current law makes it illegal for anyone under 21 years old to drink alcohol unless they are under the supervision of a parent or legal guardian.

The updated legislation is aimed at removing the temptation to allow underage people to drink on land or other property rented or owned by an adult.

“Big drinking parties, that’s the problem we’re trying to attack,” said Senator Rob Hogg of Cedar Rapids, according to a Radio Iowa report.

The proposed changes would make it a misdemeanor criminal offense to allow anyone underage to possess or drink alcohol on land or other property they rent or own, including at home.  First offenses would be punishable by a fine of $200; second and subsequent offenses would be punishable by a fine of $500.  Violators could also face up to 30 days in jail.

Iowa law already provides for similar fines for people who are 18, 19 or 20 years old who are caught drinking or in possession of alcohol.

Some local officials point out that 22 counties and 26 cities in Iowa already have ordinances in place that are similar to the proposed state law.

Assistant Iowa City Attorney Eric Goers said it could be difficult for prosecutors to prove intent of a property owner to “knowingly” allow minors to drink on their land, according to a report by The Gazette.

Senate File 2310 moves next to the House of Representatives for consideration.