Iowa drivers can be charged with operating while intoxicated (OWI) if they have a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or greater. Commercial drivers will be charged if their BAC is .04 or higher, while drivers under the age of 21 will face an OWI charge with a BAC of at least .02. Iowa OWI laws not only cover alcohol impairment. Drivers are also prohibited from driving with any amount of a controlled substance, such as marijuana, cocaine or methamphetamine, in their system.
Iowa OWI Laws Include Implied Consent
Drivers in Iowa give their implied consent to submit to chemical testing when placed under arrest for suspicion of drunk driving. Refusal will result in a one to two-year suspension of your license. You may apply for a restricted license 90 days after suspension, but you must first voluntarily install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle.
Iowa DUI laws provide that you also consent to a preliminary breath test, although you can refuse to take this without penalty. The preliminary test acts a field sobriety test, although it may not be the only one the officer uses to determine probable cause for arrest. Regardless of whether or not you consent to a preliminary breath test, the arresting officer must submit a written request for a chemical test. He or she then has two hours to provide you with the test of his or her choosing. You may refuse to take a blood test without penalty provided you consent to the officer’s second choice.
OWI Penalties in Iowa
You will be required to spend a minimum of 48 hours in jail and could be sentenced to up to one year for your first OWI conviction in Iowa, which is considered a misdemeanor. You will also have to pay fines ranging from $625 to $1,250 and will have your license suspended for one year. You may apply for a restricted license immediately if your BAC at the time of arrest was under 0.10, but an ignition interlock device will be required if your BAC was greater than 0.10. You could also be ordered to complete community service and various alcohol or drug counseling and treatment programs.
A second OWI conviction within 12 years is considered an aggravated misdemeanor in Iowa, which will mean a longer jail sentence, higher fines, and a longer license suspension. You will not be eligible for a restricted license for 90 days and must install an ignition interlock device. You could also be ordered to complete evaluation and treatment programs, as well as community service.
Under Iowa OWI laws, a third or subsequent conviction is considered a Class D felony, which could result in up to five years imprisonment and the loss of your driver’s license for six years, with a minimum of one year before you can apply for a restricted license. You will also be required to complete a substance abuse evaluation at your own expense, and the court could commit you to an inpatient treatment program.
What Is The Legal Alcohol Limit In Iowa?
The legal alcohol limit in Iowa is .08 percent, the same amount included in impaired driving laws throughout the United States. In Iowa, the state charges people who have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above this limit with operating while intoxicated (OWI). BAC levels are determined through breath, blood or urine testing.
The legal alcohol limit applies to passenger motorists age 21 and older. Select other drivers are subject to stricter limits, including:
- Individuals who are not of legal drinking age. People under 21 are subject to Iowa’s zero tolerance law, meaning that they can be prosecuted for alcohol-related driving offenses with a BAC of .02 percent or higher.
- Drivers of commercial vehicles. Operators of buses, construction equipment, semi-trucks, delivery vans and other commercial vehicles are subject to a BAC limit of .04 percent.
Penalties for operating while intoxicated are severe. Among the punishments, a person convicted of OWI may face include jail time, loss of driving privileges, fines, required attendance in alcohol education courses and mandatory substance abuse treatment. The precise penalties sentenced will depend upon the seriousness of an offense.
Ignition Interlock Requirements In Iowa
People convicted of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated may be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID). This equipment prevents a vehicle from starting if a driver fails a breath test.
Under Iowa law:
- An IID is typically required for a first OWI offense involving a BAC of .10 percent or higher.
- People who are convicted of a second OWI offense must install an IID.
- Failed IID breath tests can result in additional penalties.
Installing an ignition interlock device is often a person’s only way to drive legally following an applicable OWI offense. Devices carry leasing and servicing costs that a convicted individual must pay.
Iowa DUI Penalties
Iowa laws dictate that it is illegal to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or more. An implied consent law binds all suspect vehicle operators to a chemical test of blood, breath or urine to determine one’s BAC or to detect the presence of drugs. If a driver has a BAC of .08 percent or more, or the driver tests positive for the presence of a controlled substance, the driver is guilty of operating while intoxicated (OWI). A driver’s license may be suspended administratively as determined by the results of a chemical test or by court order as determined by the criminal penalties imposed by a judge. In addition, administrative suspensions may result from violations of .02 percent zero tolerance. Administrative suspensions are separate from and not dependent upon criminal charges.
Zero Tolerance Iowa DUI Penalties
Drivers under the age of 21 are bound by a zero tolerance administrative rule. The rule establishes that underage individuals who test for a BAC of between .02 and .08 percent will have their licenses suspended for 60 days for an initial violation and 90 days for subsequent violations. If a driver is suspected of violating .02 percent zero tolerance and refuses a chemical test, the suspension is one year for the initial violation and two years for subsequent violations. A restricted license cannot be granted during the suspension period of a violation of zero tolerance.
Iowa DUI Penalties for Offenses
The penalties imposed for a first offense are an 180-day license suspension. Drivers over the age of 18, with no previous OWI convictions in the previous 12 years, may apply for a restricted license. Drivers under the age of 18 are not eligible for a restricted license.
The penalties imposed for a second offense of OWI within a 12-year period include a one-year license suspension. Suspensions for drivers under the age of 18 continue until expiration or the driver reaches age 18, whichever is later.
For both a first and second offense, if the offense involved an accident or the driver’s BAC was in excess of .15 percent, the driver must wait 30 days to become eligible for a restricted license. If the offense involved an accident or the driver’s BAC was greater than .10 percent, the driver is required to have an ignition interlock device installed in order to get a restricted license. If the driver refused to consent to testing, the court will require the driver to wait 90 days to apply for a restricted license.
The penalty for a third offense is license suspension for six years. However, a driver may make application for a restricted license after one year if an ignition interlock device is installed on all vehicles.
If any offense results in personal injury, license suspension is one year in addition to any other suspension imposed. If any offense results in death, license suspension is six years, and the driver is not eligible for a restricted license for two years.
Driving With a Suspended License
Those who drive with a suspended license are committing a serious misdemeanor and can be subjected to a $1,000 fine if caught. If a driver’s license is suspended for OWI, the vehicle may be impounded. If it is a second or subsequent violation, the vehicle may be seized and forfeited to the state of Iowa. If the driver is not the owner of the vehicle, the owner is guilty of a simple misdemeanor.