IOWA OWI Laws – IOWA DUI Laws

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Iowa Code section 321J.2 prohibits an individual from operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or a combination of drugs or alcohol; or while having an alcohol concentration of .08 or greater. There are two elements of Iowa Operating While Intoxicated that the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt at trial:

  • The defendant operated a motor vehicle;
  • He/she did so while under the influence of alcohol or drugs; OR
  • While having an alcohol concentration of .08 or greater.

“Operating” is defined by the Iowa Supreme Court as the immediate, actual physical control over a motor vehicle that is in motion and/or has its engine running. Thus, sitting in a vehicle, even with the keys in the ignition, so long as the engine is not running, does not and cannot constitute “operating.”

While the State must have proof beyond a reasonable doubt to convict an individual of an offense, an officer need only have reason to believe that the offense has been committed to arrest and charge the individual with the crime. The criminal and civil penalties associated with “drunk driving” in the State of Iowa are severe and significantly reduce an individuals ability to obtain and maintain employment, continue with their education and maintain a lifestyle that they are accustomed to.

Criminal Penalties
  • First Offense Iowa DUI/OWI/DUI:

Serious Misdemeanor: Punishable by up to 1 year in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,500.

Mandatory Minimum Penalty: 2 days in jail and a $1,000 fine plus 30% government surcharge of $300.

Note: you may be eligible for a deferred judgment if: you did not refuse the direct breath test at the station; your BAC was under .15; you have no prior conviction or deferred judgment for OWI, and there was no bodily injury to another person.

  • Second Offense Iowa DUI/OWI/DWI:

Convictions and deferred judgments in the last 12 years in any state are counted as prior offenses.

Aggravated Misdemeanor: Punishable by up to 2 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

Mandatory Minimum Penalty: 7 days in jail and a fine of at least $1,500.

  • Third Offense Iowa OWI/DWI/DUI

This is the highest level of OWI obtainable in the State of Iowa. All subsequent convictions after 3rd offense are counted as 3rd offenses.

Class D Felony: Punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $7,500.

Mandatory Minimum Penalty: 30 days in jail and a fine of $2,500

Civil Penalties/License Suspension

Administrative revocations for test failure – Breath test indicates BAC over .08.

First Offense Violations:

  • 180-day revocation
  • Eligible for the temporary license immediately as long as there was not an accident causing personal injury or property damage and you blew under .15.
  • Must wait 30 days for the temporary license if you blew over .15 or an accident occurred.
  • Must get an ignition interlock device installed if BAC is greater than .10 or an accident occurred if you want to get a temporary license.

* Ignition interlock devices must be put on all vehicles owned and operated by a person seeking a temporary license.

Subsequent Offenses:

  • 1-year revocation
  • Not eligible for a temporary license for 1 year
  • Must get ignition interlock device if you get a temporary license
Administrative revocations for test refusal

First Offense OWI DWI DUI:

  • 1-year revocation
  • Must wait 90 days for temporary license and must install an ignition interlock device.

Subsequent Offenses

  • 2-year revocation
  • Eligible for the temporary license after 1 year but must get ignition interlock device.

Revocation upon conviction if not revoked otherwise:

First Offense

  • 180 days
  • Temporary license and ignition interlock restrictions and requirements are the same as if revoked administratively for both test failures and refusals

Subsequent Offenses

  • 2 years
  • Same requirements and restrictions for temporary license and blow and go as if revoked administratively for both test failures and refusals.

Revocations when a deferred judgment is entered

  • Revocation for 30-90 days
  • Requirements and restrictions for temporary license and ignition interlock device are the same as for an administrative revocation for a first offense.

Court Ordered Revocation in addition to previously mentioned administrative and court-ordered revocations

Third and Subsequent Offenses

  • 6-year revocation
  • Eligible for the temporary license after 2 years but must get ignition interlock device.

Any level of offense causing personal injury

  • Additional 1 year
  • Does not affect the timing of temporary license eligibility but must get ignition interlock device.

Any level of offense causing death

  • 6 years
  • Eligible for a temporary license after 2 years but must get ignition interlock device.

Zero Tolerance revocations/Under21 years of age

.02 to .08 Test Failures

  • 60 days for the first offense
  • 90 days for subsequent offenses

Refusals

  • 1 year for the first offense
  • 2 years for subsequent offenses