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Laws important to business operation

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Employees and Agents - Licensee's Responsibility

Licensees are responsible for their employees and agents while they are working in the following capacities:

  • On the licensed premises (selling and serving alcoholic beverages).
  • Off the licensed premises (delivering alcoholic beverages).

If the licensee's employees and agents violate the laws or rules governing the license, administrative proceedings may be initiated to impose a civil penalty or to suspend or revoke the license.

Ages to Sell, Serve and Deliver

A licensee's employees and agents must be at least:

  • 16 to sell liquor, wine, or beer in original unopened containers for off-premises consumption (grocery stores, convenience stores, liquor stores, etc.).
  • 18 to sell and dispense liquor, wine, or beer for on-premises consumption (restaurants, bars, clubs, etc.).
  • 21 to deliver liquor, wine, or beer in original unopened containers to a home or other designated location for personal use (licensees and permittees authorized to sell liquor, wine, or beer for off-premises consumption).

Note: Age requirements apply to the licensee’s family members as well as non-family employees. If there is a local ordinance governing minors in licensed establishments, the ordinance applies.

Local Ordinances

Local authorities may adopt ordinances governing licensed establishments that are located within their jurisdiction. Local ordinances may be more restrictive than state law, but may not conflict with the law. For example, local authorities may not adopt ordinances changing the legal hours of sale. (Hours of sale are specified by state law.)

Always check with the local authority to determine if local ordinances apply to the licensed establishment. If the local authority has ordinances governing the selling and serving of liquor, wine and beer, the local ordinances apply to the licensed establishment. Violation of a local ordinance may result in suspension of the license through a local administrative hearing. Civil penalties may not be imposed for violations of local ordinances.

Home Delivery

Licensees and permittees authorized to sell alcoholic liquor, wine, beer, or mixed drinks or cocktails for off-premises consumption may deliver alcoholic liquor, wine, or beer to a home.

Licensees and permittees may contract with a third party to deliver the alcoholic beverages provided that the licensee or permittee has entered into a written agreement with the third party that authorizes the third party to act as an agent of the licensee or permittee for the purpose of delivering the alcoholic beverages.

Deliveries of alcoholic liquor, wine, beer, or mixed drinks or cocktails are subject to the following restrictions:

  • Deliveries shall be limited to alcoholic beverages authorized by the licensee’s or permittee’s license or permit. 
  • Licensees and permittees authorized to sell wine, beer, or mixed drinks or cocktails for consumption off the licensed premises in a container other than the original container may deliver the wine, beer, or mixed drinks or cocktails to a home only if the container other than the original container has been sold and securely sealed in compliance with Iowa Code chapter 123 or the rules of the division. 
  • Payment for the alcoholic beverages shall be received by the licensee or permittee at the time of order.
  • Orders for delivery may be taken at any time Monday – Saturday and on Sunday as long as the licensee or permittee holds a Sunday Sales privilege.
  • Alcoholic beverages delivered to a person shall be for personal use and not for resale.
  • Deliveries shall only be made to persons in this state who are twenty-one years of age or older.
  • Deliveries shall not be made to a person who is intoxicated or is simulating intoxication.
  • Deliveries shall occur between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. Monday through Sunday.
  • Deliveries shall be made by the licensee or permittee, or the licensee’s or permittee’s employee, or a third party, provided the licensee or permittee has entered into a written agreement with the third party that authorizes the third party to act as an agent of the licensee or permittee for the purpose of delivering alcoholic beverages. Each licensee or permittee shall submit to the division electronically, or in a manner prescribed by the administrator, a list of names and addresses of all third parties it has authorized to act as its agent for the purpose of delivering alcoholic beverages. The licensee or permittee shall provide the division with amendments to the list as necessary to ensure the division possesses an accurate, current list. The link to the form can be found using the following link: Third-Party Delivery Form
  • Delivery personnel shall be twenty-one years of age or older.
  • Valid proof of the recipient’s identity and age shall be obtained at the time of delivery, and the signature of a person twenty-one years of age or older shall be obtained as a condition of delivery.
  • Licensees and permittees shall maintain records of deliveries which include the quantity delivered, the recipient’s name and address, and the signature of the recipient of the alcoholic beverages. The records shall be maintained on the licensed premises for a period of three years.
  • A violation of this section or any other provision of this chapter shall subject the licensee or permittee to the penalty provisions of section 123.39. If the licensee or permittee, an employee of the licensee or permittee, or a person delivering alcoholic liquor, wine, beer, or mixed drinks or cocktails for a third party acting on behalf of the licensee or permittee pursuant to a written agreement violates this section, the licensee or permittee shall not be assessed a penalty under section 123.39 if the licensee or permittee establishes all of the following:
    • The violation was committed off of the licensee’s or permittee’s premises after the liquor, wine, beer, or mixed drinks or cocktails was removed from the licensee’s or permittee’s premises in fulfillment of a delivery order.
    • If the person who committed the violation is an employee of the licensee or permittee, that no other violation of this section was committed by any employee of the licensee or permittee within the two year period immediately preceding the date of violation.
    • If the person who committed the violation is a person delivering for a third party acting on behalf of the licensee or permittee, that no other violation of this section was committed by any person delivering for the same third party while the third party was acting on behalf of the licensee or permittee within the two year period immediately preceding the date of violation.
  • Iowa Code section §123.46A (PDF, opens in a new window)

Record-Keeping Requirements

Licensees must maintain their business records on the licensed premises. Iowa law requires licensees to make their records available to law enforcement officials and to staff of the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division during business hours or when the licensee, their employees, agents or patrons are on the licensed premises.

Display of Licenses

Licensees must prominently display their liquor, wine or beer licenses in full view of the public.