Drunk Driving (OWI) Laws in Iowa

In order to avoid harsh penalties in Iowa, it is important to understand how the Iowa (OWI) laws and penalties work. If you find yourself facing drunk driving charges in Iowa, contact an Iowa OWI defense attorney to help you understand your rights and help resolve your case.

Iowa Drunk Driving Laws

The Iowa Code defines operating while intoxicated (OWI) as operating a motor vehicle with a BAC of .08% or more (known as a per se violation) or under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a controlled substance. However, a commercial driver may only have a BAC of up to .04%, and a BAC of .02% is the limit for drivers under 21 years old.

Since Iowa considers “operating” as having immediate, actual physical control of a vehicle, a person can be convicted by sitting in a running vehicle. Typically, if it is your first charge this is a serious misdemeanor offense, but the OWI penalties can increase depending on if you have had prior OWI convictions. Drivers who have two prior convictions prior to getting pulled over by an officer can face felony charges.

Implied Consent: Yes

Enhanced Penalties: Habitual offender; BAC of .15% or more; operating while under the influence with a child in the car, prior convictions, accident causing serious bodily injury or death.

First-Time Offense: ​Punishable by up to 1-year imprisonment; a fine; up to 1-year license revocation; and a requirement to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle.

Second Offense: An aggravated misdemeanor punishable by a minimum of 7 days imprisonment, up to 2 years; a fine of up to $6,250; and license revocation.

Third Offense: A Class D felony punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment, with a mandatory minimum time of 30 days. This is in addition to a fine of up to $9, 375 and up to 6 years of a license revocation.

You will be required to attend a substance abuse evaluation and treatment course for drinking drivers. Penalties can increase if there are aggravating factors like causing serious bodily harm or death.

Iowa OWI Under 21

For the most part, drinking and driving under the age of 21 in Iowa also has penalties and can affect your ability to drive. If your BAC is over .02 but under .08, you have to forfeit your driving privileges for 60 days for a first violation and 90 days for a second violation. If your BAC is over .08%, you can face a criminal OWI like any other driver.

Get Legal Help for an Iowa OWI

Getting an OWI in Iowa can definitely complicate your life, so your best bet is to call in a professional who can guide you through the process and help you reduce the negative consequences of a charge. In some cases, your lawyer can negotiate with the judge and prosecutor to reduce the OWI penalties.

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