Iowa uses the acronym of OWI rather than DUI for the offense of driving or operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. An OWI carries with it the same range of punishments as DUI in other states. Drivers convicted of this offense can lose their driving privileges and also face serving time in jail or prison.
The best way to avoid a DUI in Iowa is by knowing what the legal blood alcohol content limits are for each category of driver. It also helps motorists to know how this crime is punished by the state’s courts.
OWI in Iowa
As in most states, the per se BAC limit in Iowa is 0.08 percent or higher. This blood alcohol content applies to drivers who are 21 years of age and older and operate privately owned vehicles.
Commercial drivers including bus drivers are held to a lower BAC level. They can be arrested for OWI in Iowa if they have BACs of 0.04 percent or higher.
The state’s zero-tolerance law for underage drivers mandates that drivers under the age of 21 have BACs lower than 0.02 percent to avoid being arrested for OWI. The underage OWI law applies to operating motor vehicles like mopeds and water skis.
In Iowa, the law also allows for an aggravated or enhanced OWI charge. The criteria for this offense involves causing serious injury or death to a third party while operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.
OWI Penalties in Iowa
Iowa judges use a variety of penalties to address OWI in the state. These consequences include serving jail sentences and paying monetary fines.
A first-time OWI offender in Iowa can face serving 48 hours to one year in jail. He or she can also be ordered to pay a fine of up to $1250 and have his or her drivers’ license revoked for 180 days to one year.
A second OWI conviction in Iowa garners a jail term of seven days to two years. The fine can range from $1875 to $6250. The person’s drivers’ license can also be revoked for up to two years.
A third OWI results in a prison sentence of at least five years. The fines can range from $3225 to $9375. The person’s license can be revoked for up to six years.
Enhanced or aggravated OWIs are met with harsher penalties. People convicted of an aggravated OWI in Iowa can have their licenses revoked for an additional year on top of the regular OWI penalties that they receive. They can also have their licenses taken away for an additional six years if they caused the death of someone else while operating while intoxicated.
The state also uses strict laws to discourage commercial drivers from operating their vehicles wihle intoxicated. Commercial drivers convicted of this offense cannot drive a commercial vehicle for a year after a first charge. If they transport hazardous materials, they cannot drive for three years.
If they are convicted of an OWI for a second or subsequent time, commercial drivers are disqualified from driving commercial vehicles for life. However, this revocation can be lifted after 10 years if the drivers meet certain criteria.
All OWI offenders in Iowa, regardless of their age or classification, must undergo a substance abuse consultation. They also must participate in a reality education substance abuse prevention program. Further, a judge can add on a $500 per agency charge if an OWI offender required the services of:
- Medical first response
- Other emergency services
The OWI offender must make restitution to these agencies as part of his or her penalty.
Underage OWI in Iowa
Iowa prohibits minors under the age of 21 from operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. Drivers under this age cannot have a BAC of 0.02 percent or higher. If they are arrested for OWI in the state, underage drivers face the same range of penalties as adult OWI offenders.
Further, underage OWI offenders cannot apply for a restricted license during the time that their licenses are suspended. They also have to take part in the Iowa Youthful Offender Substance Abuse Program. This program involves tours of hospitals, emergency rooms, and morgues to demonstrate the dangers of OWI.
Implied Consent in Iowa
Implied consent requires motorists in Iowa to comply with chemical testing to determine their BAC if they are arrested for OWI. This law applies to motorists who:
- Are lawfully arrested for OWI
- Cause injury or death to another person while driving intoxicated
- Refuse to take a preliminary breath test or PBT
- Have a PBT indicate a BAC of 0.08 or higher
- Have a PBT that indicates a BAC of 0.08 but the officer suspects the presence of drugs
Refusing to take a chemical test to determine one’s BAC can result in penalties like a loss of one’s license for up to one year. If the person has a prior OWI on his or her record, he or she could lose driving privileges for up to two years and pay a fine of $200.
The arresting officer can also seize the person’s drivers’ license and issue a temporary 10-day permit. To get the regular license back, the arrested individual must request and go through a state administrative hearing. He or she will also have to pay a $200 fine to the state and have an ignition interlock device or IID installed on his or her vehicle.
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is called Operating While Intoxicated in Iowa. Regardless of the acronym, the offense carries with it penalties that range from jail or prison terms to civil fines and loss of driving privileges.
The OWI laws in Iowa extend to everyone who operates a motor vehicle in the state. The allowable BAC levels for each category of driver in Iowa differ and carry different consequences when these limits are exceeded.