Drunk Driving Defense Laws in Iowa

Iowa has stiff penalties for those operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI). It is against the law to operate a car while having a concentration of alcohol at .08 or more. A police officer has the right to make you take a blood, breath or urine test to determine how much, if any, alcohol is in your system if he or she has any reasonable grounds for believing you may be intoxicated. Being under the influence of alcohol while operating a vehicle can bring you a lot of grief in Iowa because you have to take action after the fact to clear your license of any black marks against you.

When you take a chance at getting a DUI or OWI in Iowa, there are some penalties against your license that will cause it to be restricted or revoked such as a driver's license revocation due to chemical test failure conviction.

Your license is revoked for 180 days for a first offense, however, when a OWI test shows that your alcohol level is at .08 or more, and you have no DUI/OWI-related revocations in the previous 12 years, you can receive a temporary restricted license. If your BAC level was greater than .10 or an accident occurred, you must install an ignition interlock device. If you had an accident and your blood alcohol content level was greater than .15, you have to wait 30 days to be eligible for a temporary restricted license. No one under 18 can have a restricted license in any case. Also, if you have refused a BAC test, your waiting period for a restricted license is 90 days.

For a second offense, the revocation lasts for one year. There is a good chance that you can get a restricted license but you must wait for 45 days to even apply. The judge may order you to take an education class that teaches about DUI/OWI. You have to have an ignition interlock installed for one year. Unfortunately, if you are under the age of 18, your license is revoked until the court approves you to drive again or until you turn 18.

The third time you are caught drinking and driving, you are going to face a revocation of your license for six long years. If you want to apply for a restricted license, you can do this after a year has passed, but not before, and you must have an ignition interlock device installed.

For the most part, drinking and driving under the age of 21 in Iowa has huge ramifications. If your BAC is over .02 and over .08, you have to forfeit your driving privileges for 60 days for a first violation and 90 days for a second violation. Getting that blood alcohol content test is a good idea, because refusing one will cost you a full year of driving privileges for a first violation and two years for a second one.

Of course, this type of revocation, .02/zero tolerance, is strictly administrative and is not dependent on any type of criminal charge being filed. That adds to your misery incrementally when those types of charges are added to your file. If your license is revoked and marked as ".02/zero tolerance," you are not even eligible for a temporary restricted license at any time during the period that your license has been revoked.

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 of mitigating the damage. The information above gives you a general idea of what you can expect if you have an OWI in Iowa. Remembering that there is a penalty that must be paid and having representation in this process before the court can help you remain a driver in Iowa.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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