Purpose of Practice

A comprehensive alcohol compliance program was initiated to enforce adherence to the Iowa Alcoholic Beverage Control Act through education, voluntary compliance and punitive regulation.

Description of Practice

When the Division lost resources to enforce alcoholic beverage laws a decade ago, all alcoholic beverage enforcement became the responsibility of state, county and local law enforcement agencies throughout Iowa. With this shift of responsibility, the approach to alcoholic beverage enforcement became reactive. Recognizing this detriment, the Division reestablished an alcohol compliance section in 2011. The alcohol compliance section developed an in-house computer program to track violation complaints and actions taken. A complaint of a violation is entered into the computer program and assigned to an investigator. Once assigned, an email is generated and sent to the investigator with the details of the complaint. When investigations require law enforcement assistance, an email is sent to the appropriate law enforcement jurisdiction. Additionally, the computer program allows for records management. Investigators are able to efficiently create and manage investigative reports for complaints assigned to them. Furthermore, the computer program allows statistically reports to be generated. Due to the lack of enforcement of alcoholic beverage laws over the past decade, many founded complaints result in voluntary compliance through education. Although, administrative action by the Division is sometimes necessary to enforce licensee compliance, particularly in cases when a licensed premises that has been educated is found to have repeated the same violation. One component of the alcohol compliance program involves establishing and maintaining partnerships with state, county, and local law enforcement agencies throughout Iowa. The Division has produced an extensive training program designed to educate law enforcement officials on common violations committed by licensees, to identify useful resources and tools for alcohol compliance and criminal investigations, and to provide updates to alcoholic beverage laws. Overall, the Division is focused on becoming the clearinghouse for all alcohol-related information in the state of Iowa, by either supplying training, resources and answers or providing avenues for obtaining requested information.

Success or Improvements

The development of the in-house computer program has resulted in an efficient reporting and records management system for alcoholic beverage complaints. During the first year of this initiative, 328 investigations were conducted. 37% of the investigations were complaint driven investigations, with the remainder being investigator initiated compliance inspections. 26% of investigations were found to have compliant licensed premises with no violations. 68% of the investigations resulted in voluntary compliance through education. Administrative action was taken on 6% of the investigations. Clearly, licensees are becoming more educated by utilizing the voluntary compliance approach. However, with this being the first year of the initiative, there is no way to compare compliance statistics. State, county, and local law enforcement officials have requested and have been provided alcohol compliance training. With the establishment of these partnerships, the Division has become a resource for alcoholic beverage information including being asked to assist in investigations.

Evaluation of the Practice

The Division expects the alcohol compliance program to contribute to an overall reduction of alcoholic beverage law violations in the state.


Law enforcement officials have been receptive of the program.


Name: Karen Freund 
Agency: Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division 
Address: 1918 SE Hulsizer Road, Ankeny, IA 50021 
Tele: 515-281-7414 
Email: freund@iowaabd.com