DES MOINES — April is Alcohol Awareness Month and marks the beginning of the prom and graduation season, a time when the spotlight turns to celebrations that can lead to underage drinking. The Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division is encouraging retailers and the public to observe the National Council of Alcoholism and Drug Dependence 28th annual Alcohol Awareness Month. Each year across the United States, hundreds of teens are killed or injured in alcohol-related accidents connected with prom and graduation celebrations. More than one third of youth killed in alcohol-related traffic accidents occur during the months of April, May and June according to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration.
“Alcohol retailers are a first line of defense in keeping alcohol out of the hands of Iowa’s youth,” said ABD Administrator Stephen Larson. “The ABD works with retailers through its education and outreach program to provide resources and training to help prevent underage sales.”
As an alcohol license holder, selling alcohol is a privilege that comes with great responsibility. Retailers have the ability to prevent the sale of alcohol products to underage youth by carefully checking the identification of anyone suspected of being under the legal purchase age. Businesses have the right to refuse the sale or service of alcohol and if the server or clerk is in doubt of a customer’s age or identification, the sale should be refused.
A sale-to-minor violation is a simple misdemeanor. The crime is punishable by a fine of $1,500 if the sale is made by the license holder, or $500 if the sale is made by an employee. In addition to administrative sanctions that may result in license revocation, the business may be found liable if an underage person who becomes intoxicated injures or kills an innocent third party.
It is important that businesses exercise due diligence and fulfill the responsibility to assure that alcoholic beverages are not sold or provided to any person under 21. The primary vehicle for retailers to meet their obligation is to thoroughly check identification. Licensee and employee training is available at I-PACT.com. Additional resources and tools are available on the ABD website at IowaABD.com.
Considering the consequences, it is better to be safe than sorry. It pays for businesses to be absolutely certain that the customer is of legal drinking age. Help make proms, graduations and spring a sober experience for Iowa’s youth.