Law & UNI Policy

The University of Northern Iowa adheres to the laws of the state of Iowa, and strives to create an environment that supports healthy decisions and lifestyles. While the use of illegal drugs is prohibited, the university acknowledges and respects the rights of individuals to use alcohol in a legal and responsible manner, just as it acknowledges and respects the rights of individuals who choose not to use alcohol. Although the moderate consumption of alcohol may be an acceptable part of certain social activities, alcohol and drug abuse interferes with the ability of the University to achieve its mission and can adversely affect individuals, the university and the larger community.

This policy is intended to help maintain the health and safety of the university’s faculty, staff, students and visitors, and to ensure that alcohol and drug use do not interfere with the effective functioning of the university. It further delineates the parameters relative to the use of alcoholic beverages on university property, at university-sponsored events or in conjunction with university activities.

In general, state laws prohibit:

  • Consuming, possessing or purchasing an alcoholic beverage if you are under 21 (Minor in Possession or “MIP”)
  • Consuming or possessing an alcoholic beverage in a public place
  • Possessing an open or unsealed container in a motor vehicle (when the container is within the immediate reach of the driver)
  • Possession of an open or unsealed alcoholic beverage by a passenger in the passenger area of a motor vehicle (Exceptions apply to taxis, limousines and motor homes)
  • Public intoxication
  • Pretending to be intoxicated
  • Giving or selling an alcoholic beverage to someone under age 21
  • Giving or selling an alcoholic beverage to anyone who is intoxicated
  • Lending your driver’s license to someone or knowingly permitting someone else to use it

Each of the above violations is a simple misdemeanor offense punishable by up to 30 days imprisonment, a fine of at least fifty dollars but not more than five hundred dollars, or both. For certain offenses, mandatory fines and periods of driver’s license suspension apply.

Retail Outlets/Liquor Licensees

If an employee of a licensed liquor establishment or a alcohol retail outlet serves a minor, the employee and the establishment are each fined $1500. This penalty applies to anyone who knowingly or by failing to exercise reasonable care, provided alcohol to a minor.

Social Hosts: Providing Alcohol to a Minor

An individual over age 21 who gives, sells or supplies an alcoholic beverage to a person under the legal age commits a serious misdemeanor and is subject to a fine of between $500 and $1500 and may also be sentenced to up to one year of jail time. If injury results from the actions of an intoxicated minor, the individual who provided the alcohol commits an aggravated misdemeanor and is subject to two years imprisonment and a fine of between $500 and $5000. If death results from having furnished alcohol, the offense is a Class D felony punishable by up to five years imprisonment.

“Fake I.D.”

Anyone under the age of 21 who alters, displays or possesses a fictitious or fraudulently altered license and uses it to purchase alcohol can lose their driver’s license for up to 6 months. This offense is also a simple misdemeanor.

Operating While Intoxicated (OWI)

Under state law, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. This means driving with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or greater or driving while under the influence of another drug, such as marijuana or certain prescription medications.

A person convicted of a first offense OWI can be fined up to $1,250 and can be placed in county jail for up to one year. However, at the court’s discretion, up to $625 of this fine may be waived if there was no personal injury or property damage. The minimum jail time is 48 hours. For a second offense, the individual will be confined for a minimum of seven days and fined not less than $1,875 and not more than $6,250 For a third or subsequent OWI conviction (a Class D Felony), the individual will be imprisoned between thirty days and five years and will be assessed a fine of not less than $3,125 and not more than $9,375.

In addition to fines and jail time, those convicted for OWI forfeit their driving privileges for a minimum of 180 days (The revocation period is even greater if the individual refuses the blood alcohol test OR has previous OWI convictions.) In the past, OWI violators could obtain work or school permits even though their license had been revoked. With recent legislative changes, there is now a “hard suspension” period, during which time, no temporary licenses are granted. After the hard suspension period has passed, a work or school permit will only be granted after an ignition interlock device is installed on each of the person’s vehicles. This device connects to an automobile’s ignition system and prevents the vehicle from being started if the intended driver has been drinking.

Minor in Possession (MIP):

First offense - Simple misdemeanor punishable by a $200.00 fine plus court costs.

Second offense - Simple misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $500.00. In addition, the violator must choose to either complete a substance abuse evaluation or have their driver's license suspended for up to one year.

Third (and subsequent) offenses - Simple misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $500.00 AND driver's license suspension for up to one year.

*Learn more information about Iowa’s Alcohol and other Drug Laws.
In the "Iowa Code Quick Search" field, type in “124” for Controlled Substances, or “123” for Alcohol laws, and then click "Go" for complete listings.

*Learn more about Federal drug penalties.

The University of Northern Iowa is required by law to provide an annual notification to all students of the policies, sanctions and risks associated with the use of alcohol and other drugs based on the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (EDGAR Part 86 Subpart A 86.3).

This notification provides the following information:

  • Drug and alcohol resources and programs available to students;
  • Health risks associated with alcohol and other drug misuse or abuse;
  • Standards of conduct and conduct sanctions for students regarding unlawful possession or distribution of illicit drugs and alcohol;
  • Possible local, state and federal legal sanctions.


If a student has been arrested and is facing criminal penalties for an alcohol or other drug-related offense, s/he may still face University penalties for the offense if it violates the Student Conduct Code. This does not constitute “double jeopardy”. In general, the Conduct Code applies only to conduct that occurs on University premises, at University sponsored activities, and activities that can be interpreted as representing the University. However, the Code may also be extended to address behavior/incidents that occur off-campus, if the incident adversely affects the University community and/ or the pursuit of its objectives.

Most violations of the UNI Drugs and Alcohol Policy are heard via an administrative hearing facilitated by either a Residence Life Coordinator or a Student Conduct Administrator from the Dean of Student’s Office. During these hearings, the student responds to the written allegation, and any supportive documentation, of the potential policy violation. The hearing is the student’s opportunity to explain what occurred and why.

Severe violations of the Conduct Code, which may result in student suspension or expulsion, are addressed in a different manner. These cases are heard by a body called the Student Conduct Committee in a process known as a Formal Hearing. Detailed information about hearings is provided in the Student Conduct Code.

The following sanctions may be imposed upon any student found to have violated the student conduct code:

  • Warning – A notice in writing to the student that the student is violating or has violated the Student Conduct Code.
  • Probation – A written reprimand for a designated period of time. If a student has a subsequent policy violation during the probationary period, it is likely that more severe sanctions will be issues for that offense.
  • Loss of Privileges for a designated period of time (e.g. participation in extracurricular activities, use of a particular facility, the ability to host guests in University housing).
  • Withholding Degree – The University may withhold awarding a degree otherwise earned until the completion of the hearing process set forth in the Conduct Code, including the completion of any imposed sanctions imposed.
  • Delayed Registration – A student may be required to delay his/her course registration until a complainant or any other student(s) involved in a conduct matter has completed course registration. Delayed registration is for a specified number of semesters or may be required until the complainant or other involved student(s) graduate.
  • ‌Fines
  • Financial Restitution for loss, damage, or injury.
  • Residence System and/or Dining Facility Suspension for a specified period of time.
  • Residence System and/or Dining Facility Expulsion (i.e. permanent separation).
  • No Contact or No Trespass Notices – issued to help assure that a member(s) of the University community is not subject to harassment or contact with the accused student/person found in violation of the student conduct code.
  • Discretionary Sanctions, such as unpaid volunteer work, essays, counseling or substance abuse education, evaluation, and/or treatment at the student’s expense.
  • University Suspension – Separation of the student from the University for a specified period of time, after which conditions for readmission may also be specified.
  • University Expulsion – Permanent separation of the student from the University.
  • Revocation of Admission and/or Degree.