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Liquor law in Iowa

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Summary of Drinking Age in Iowa

This article provides an overview of the drinking age in Iowa. It is important for adults in the United States to understand the laws pertaining to alcohol consumption in different states, as they can vary.

Background Information

In Iowa, the legal drinking age is 21 years old. This law was passed in 1986 and applies to both purchasing and consuming alcohol within the state.

Exceptions to the Law

There are a few exceptions to the drinking age in Iowa that allow those under 21 to consume alcohol:

  • Religious Purposes: Persons under 21 may consume alcohol as part of a religious ceremony or ritual.
  • Medical Emergencies: Alcohol may be provided to someone under 21 in a medical emergency situation.
  • Private Residences: Individuals under 21 may consume alcohol in a private residence if they have the consent of their parent or legal guardian.

It is important to note that anyone providing alcohol to a person under 21, except in the aforementioned exceptions, can face legal consequences.

Consequences of Underage Drinking

Iowa takes underage drinking seriously and has strict consequences for those caught breaking the law. Some of these consequences include:

  • Fines: Individuals can face fines ranging from $200 to $500 for possessing or consuming alcohol under the age of 21.
  • Driver's License Suspension: A person's driver's license can be suspended for up to 1 year for a first offense of underage drinking and driving.
  • Legal Charges: In some cases, individuals can face criminal charges for underage drinking, which can result in a permanent criminal record.


While there are exceptions to the drinking age in Iowa, it is important for adults to understand the laws and consequences surrounding alcohol consumption in the state. The legal drinking age is in place to keep individuals safe and prevent alcohol-related incidents.

Driving and Alcohol Laws in Iowa

Iowa has strict laws regarding driving under the influence of alcohol. The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit for drivers in Iowa is 0.08%. However, drivers under the age of 21 are subject to a zero-tolerance law, and any amount of alcohol in their system is considered illegal.

Penalties for DUI in Iowa

In Iowa, the penalties for DUI increase with each offense. The first offense may result in a fine of up to $1,250, a 180-day driver's license suspension, and up to one year in jail. Subsequent offenses may result in higher fines and longer jail sentences, as well as a longer driver's license suspension or revocation.

Ignition Interlock Devices

Iowa requires the use of ignition interlock devices (IIDs) for some DUI offenders. These devices require the driver to blow into a breathalyzer before starting the car. If the device detects alcohol, the car will not start. The length of time that an IID must be used depends on the offense and the offender's BAC level.

Dram Shop Laws

Iowa also has dram shop laws that hold establishments liable for serving alcohol to someone who is visibly intoxicated or under the age of 21. If the person causes injury or harm to someone else as a result of their intoxication, the establishment may be held responsible for damages.

Open Container Laws

In Iowa, it is illegal to have an open container of alcohol in a vehicle, whether the driver is drinking or not. This law applies to both drivers and passengers, and violations may result in fines and other penalties.


In conclusion, Iowa takes driving under the influence of alcohol very seriously. Anyone caught driving under the influence may face significant penalties, including fines, jail time, and driver's license suspension or revocation. It is important to remember that driving under the influence can not only result in legal consequences but also in serious injury or death to oneself or others.

Blood Alcohol Concentration in Iowa

Below is a table showing the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limits in Iowa for adult drivers.

BAC Level Legal Consequences
0.00% - 0.07% No legal consequences, the driver is considered sober
0.08% - 0.17% Driving under the influence (DUI) offense with mandatory license suspension for up to 180 days
0.18% and above Aggravated DUI offense with mandatory license suspension for up to 1 year

It is important for adult drivers in Iowa to be aware of these BAC limits and to never drink and drive. In addition to legal consequences, driving under the influence can lead to serious accidents and injury. It is always best to plan for a safe ride home after drinking.

Open container law in Iowa

Summary of Open Container Law in Iowa

Iowa has an open container law that prohibits the consumption of alcoholic beverages in public places such as streets, parks, and sidewalks. Here are the key points of the law:

Prohibited Conduct

  • It is illegal to consume, possess, or transport an open container of an alcoholic beverage in a motor vehicle on a public highway, street, or alley.
  • The law defines an open container as any bottle, can, jar, or other receptacle that contains any amount of an alcoholic beverage and has been opened, has a broken seal, or has had its contents partially removed.


  • This law does not apply to passengers in a commercial vehicle or a vehicle that is designed or used for the transportation of persons for compensation, such as a taxi or limousine.
  • It also does not apply to the living quarters of a motor home or house trailer.


  • Violating Iowa's open container law is a simple misdemeanor offense.
  • A person convicted of this offense may be fined up to $200 and/or sentenced to up to 30 days in jail.

It is important to note that Iowa's open container law is different from its public intoxication law, which prohibits being drunk or intoxicated in public places. Violating both laws can result in additional fines and jail time.

Iowa Liquor Sale Open Hours

Day of the Week Liquor Sale Open Hours in Iowa
Monday 8:00am - 2:00am
Tuesday 8:00am - 2:00am
Wednesday 8:00am - 2:00am
Thursday 8:00am - 2:00am
Friday 8:00am - 2:00am
Saturday 8:00am - 2:00am
Sunday 8:00am - 2:00am

In Iowa, liquor can be sold from 8:00am to 2:00am every day of the week. This means that any adult over the age of 21 can purchase liquor during these hours from licensed retailers, such as liquor stores and bars.

It's important to note that these hours may vary based on local ordinances and policies set by individual establishments. Additionally, some counties in Iowa have restrictions on the sale of liquor on Sundays, so it's always best to check with your local government or retailer to ensure you're aware of any limitations in your area.

Overall, Iowa's liquor sale open hours provide ample opportunity for adults to purchase and enjoy liquor responsibly.