If you’re 18, 19 or 20 and caught drinking, you will soon face a bigger fine. The Iowa House has sent the governor a bill that doubles the fine for underage kids caught drinking, buying or possessing beer or liquor from one-hundred to two-hundred dollars. Representative Joe Hutter, a Republican from Bettendorf, says today you have to go to the courthouse to pay that fine, but once the bill becomes law, young people caught drinking or buying booze will be able to pay the fine through the mail. “It allows them to pay the fine without going to court and it frees up the court to deal with other things,” Hutter says. The bill also increases the fine for a second underage alcohol purchase, possession or consumption offense while at the same time easing the penalty. A second offense today costs you two-hundred dollars and you automatically lose your drivers license for a year. The bill hikes that fine significantly — to five-hundred dollars — but it lets an 18-, 19- or 20-year-old opt to undergo a substance abuse evaluation rather than lose their license. Hutter doubts many young people would choose to lose their license for a year, and an evaluation may help some find out they’re an alcoholic. About six-thousand people were arrested in Iowa last year and charged with buying or drinking underage. About two-hundred 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds were charged with a second alcohol offense. “So, usually, once they get caught between 18 and 21 (years of age), they learn their lesson or become more careful,” Hutter says.
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