Understanding Iowa PAULA Laws

Possession of Alcohol Under the Legal Age (PAULA) is a simple misdemeanor in the state of Iowa. Here is what you need to know about Iowa PAULA laws.

Who Can Be Charged with PAULA

Anyone under the age of 21 who is found to be in possession of alcohol can be charged with possession of alcohol under the legal age. However, the law only applies to 18, 19, and 20 year-olds, as minors under the age of 18 likely will be charged with Minor in Possession.

It is important to note that possession does not equal consumption. If you are under the age of 21 and holding an alcoholic beverage – even if it isn’t yours – you can be charged with PAULA. In fact, the simple act of sitting at a table with a drink in front of you can result in a PAULA charge under the theory of constructive possession, although that is not a slam dunk for the state if it was someone else’s alcohol. It should also be noted that just because you consumed alcohol does not mean you currently are in possession of alcohol, although that fact can be used as evidence against you. Still, consumption does not necessarily equal current possession.

What are the Legal Consequences

For a first time offense, the fine is $200, plus required 35% surcharge and $60 court costs. If you are charged with a second PAULA offense, the fee increases to $500 plus the surcharge and court charges. A second time offender will also be required to complete a substance abuse evaluation or have their license suspended for up to a year.

All subsequent PAULA offenses will result in a $500 fee and the suspension of your license for up to a year.

PAULA Expungement Laws in Iowa

If you have been charged with Possession of Alcohol Under the Legal Age in the state of Iowa, you can get the charge expunged from your record. A PAULA charge can be expunged 2 years after the date of your conviction, as long as you have no further legal violations except for minor traffic offenses.

If you have been wrongfully charged with Possession of Alcohol Under the Legal Age or wish to have a previous PAULA charge expunged, contact Adam Pollack for a free consultation.

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