Iowa’s fines double for underage liquor violations

by Carl Benskin

Getting caught drinking underage will carry a heftier penalty in Iowa this year.

During the last legislative session, the Iowa General Assembly passed House File 275, which addresses purchase, possession or control of alcohol by persons under legal age. The act changes the criminal violation for the first offence from a fine of $100 to a simple misdemeanor with a fine of $200. Conviction of a simple misdemeanor can earn a person up to 30 days in jail. With court cost, Director of Security Chris Frerichs said that the total cost will be about $296.

Sophomore Rachelle Woodley said that the fines are just fine with her.

“I think the fines are good, but on the part of the licenses, if they weren’t drinking and driving, I don’t think they should get their license taken away,” Woodley said.

After the second violation, the fine increases to $500 and the minor may lose his or her driver’s license for up to one year.

With the new act, Frerichs said students will still have to deal with Simpson security before the Indianola Police Department.

“If we’re dealing [with a student under the legal age] with a policy violation, we’re going to request that the student abide by Simpson policy,” Frerichs said.

When caught, students are supposed to dispose of the alcohol, according to Simpson’s policy. If students don’t comply, security can call the Indianola Police Department. Frerichs said the police have the right to come on campus if there is a crime taking place.

Security has a working understanding with IPD: Before intervening on campus, IPD usually calls security first.

“We will give the student every chance to comply,” Frerichs said.

Frerichs said the new act cuts back on paperwork for the police.

“It streamlines the process for the police,” Frerichs said. “There are some students that are going to think twice about being in public with alcohol. It serves as a deterrent.”

Prior to the new act, the police had around four forms to fill out to charge a minor with possession of alcohol, but now it’s as simple as writing a ticket.

Frerichs said the police used to just ticket the most obvious offenders. Now, for example, they can ticket everyone at a party with ease.

But junior Justin Davis doesn’t share Frerichs optimism. He doesn’t think the new rules are a deterrent.

“It will just make people sneakier,” Davis said.

Simpson is required to follow the Clery Act to report the number and type of crime committed on campus for the previous calendar year.

In 2004, Simpson had 77 liquor violations on campus, down from 91 in 2003. Liquor violations had been climbing steadily since 2000, when Simpson reported 42. Frerichs said Simpson’s record is comparable to other schools of similar size that allow limited alcohol consumption on campus.