Iowa OWI Laws: FAQ

What are the penalties for an Iowa OWI conviction?

The penalties for a 1st OWI conviction include:

  • A serious misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $1,250 (as an alternative to a portion or all of the fine, the court may order the person to perform unpaid community service), or both,
  • A minimum jail time of 48 hours, which may be served in an OWI program with law enforcement security,
  • Complete a substance abuse evaluation and treatment course for drinking drivers, and
  • Possibly, a reality education substance abuse prevention program.

The penalties for a 2nd OWI conviction include:

  • An aggravated misdemeanor,
  • 7 days to 5 years in prison, and
  • A fine of $1,875 to $6,250 must be paid.

The penalties for a 3rd OWI or subsequent conviction, within 12 years of the first, include:

  • A class “D” felony,
  • Minimum 30 days to 5 years in prison, and
  • Fines of $3,125 to $9,375.

What are the criminal penalties for OWI causing death or serious injury in Iowa?

An OWI that causes the death of another person is a class "B" felony, punishable by up to 25 years in prison. This sentence cannot be suspended, and a defendant cannot be released on bail before sentencing, or while on appeal. There is no fine, but victim restitution may be ordered.

OWI which causes a serious injury to another person is a class "D" felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison. This sentence cannot be suspended. A fine of from $500 to $7,500 may be imposed, and victim restitution may be ordered.

Will my license be suspended if I am convicted of OWI and under age 21 in Iowa?

Yes, but the length of the suspension depends on your BAC and surrounding circumstances.

The license of a person under 21 who submits to a chemical test which indicates an alcohol level of .02 or more, but less than .08, will be revoked for 60 days on a first violation and 90 days on subsequent violations. If you are suspected of operating with an alcohol level of .02 or more and refuse chemical testing, the license revocation will be one year on a first violation and two years on a second or subsequent violation. These revocations, .02/“zero tolerance” revocations, are administrative and are not dependent upon criminal charges being filed. If a license is revoked for a .02/“zero tolerance” violation, the driver is not eligible for a temporary restricted license at any time during the revocation.

How long will I lose my driver’s license if I refuse to take a chemical sobriety test in Iowa?

After a 1st refusal with no OWI-related revocations in the previous 12 years your driver’s license will be revoked for 1 year. However, you may apply for a temporary restricted license after the first 90 days if an ignition interlock device is installed on all of your vehicles and you plead guilty in court.

If it is your 2nd Refusal within the last 12 years your driver’s license will be revoked for 2 years. You may apply for a temporary restricted license after one year, if ignition interlock device is installed on all of your vehicles.

How long will I lose my driver's license after an OWI conviction in Iowa?

1st Conviction: Minimum180 days
You may apply for a temporary restricted license. If an accident occurred, or if the BAC level was .15 or greater, you must wait 30 days. You must install an ignition interlock device if the BAC level is .10, or greater or if an accident occurred. You must wait 90 days if you refused to test.

Second Conviction, (within last 12 years): 2 years
You may apply for a temporary restricted license after one year, if ignition interlock device is installed on all vehicles.
If you are under age 21, you are ineligible for temporary restricted license until 60 days have passed.

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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