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In Iowa, driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is called
“operating while intoxicated,” or OWI. This is an incredibly serious
criminal offense that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the
circumstances. Regardless of the exact charge you face, the penalties
can be life-changing. You could be facing license suspension, jail time,
fines, and points on your license among other consequences.
To mitigate or avoid these penalties, you will need to retain a knowledgeable
and experienced OWI lawyer. Our Des Moines DUI defense attorneys have
extensive experience representing Iowans who have been accused of drinking
and driving or driving under the influence of controlled substances.
On This Page:
- What Is an OWI?
- BAC Limits in OWI Charges
- Iowa’s Implied Consent Law
- Penalties of an OWI/DUI Conviction
- Des Moines DUI Defense FAQ:
Drunk driving is a serious offense throughout the United States, but it
is not always called the same thing. While many states use the term "Driving
Under the Influence" or DUI to refer to the criminal act of operating
a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol, Iowa law defines this
same act as "Operating While Intoxicated," or OWI. As of 2023,
four states use the term OWI, while all states have laws prohibiting driving
under the influence.
The penalties for an OWI conviction in Iowa vary depending on the circumstances
of the case and whether the offender has any prior OWI convictions. For
a first-time offense, penalties can include fines, license suspension,
and potential jail time. Subsequent offenses carry steeper penalties,
including mandatory minimum jail time, longer license suspensions, and
the possibility of vehicle forfeiture.
Driving a vehicle with a BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of 0.08% or
higher can result in OWI charges in Iowa and most other states around
the country. You can also be charged with OWI for driving with any amount
of a controlled substance in your system as determined by chemical testing.
Iowa has a zero-tolerance policy for drunk drivers under the age of 21.
Any driver under 21 who is found with a BAC of 0.02% or more can be charged with OWI.
In Iowa, all drivers on the state’s roadways automatically consent
to an OWI test. This means that if you are pulled over with reasonable
suspicion that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, you are
deemed to have given consent to a blood, breath, urine, or other chemical
test. Refusing to take a chemical test will result in a one-year license
revocation, or a two-year license revocation for repeat offenders.
If you have been charged with OWI, a conviction can have a profound impact
on your present-day life and your future.
At Hope Law Firm, we want to help you avoid:
- Jail time
- License revocation or suspension
- Mandatory ignition interlock device installation
Depending on whether this is your first offense or a subsequent offense,
the penalties could be extremely harsh. Our Des Moines DUI lawyers are
here to help build a strong defense on your behalf.
What defenses are available in a DUI case?
Common defenses in a DUI case include challenging the accuracy of breathalyzer
or blood test results, questioning the validity of the traffic stop or
arrest, disputing the officer's observations or conduct, and presenting
evidence of alternative explanations for alleged signs of impairment.
Will I lose my driver's license if I am convicted of DUI?
If you are convicted of DUI in Iowa, your driver's license will be subject
to suspension. The duration of the suspension will depend on several factors,
such as the nature of the offense, prior convictions, and other circumstances.
It is important to consult with a DUI attorney to understand the specific
implications for your case.
Can I refuse a breathalyzer or blood test?
In Iowa, you have the right to refuse a breathalyzer or blood test. However,
there are consequences for refusing a chemical test, such as an administrative
license suspension. Iowa has implied consent laws, which means that by
driving in the state, you are deemed to have given consent to chemical
testing for alcohol or drugs if requested by law enforcement. Refusing
a chemical test may result in penalties separate from any DUI charges.