Understanding Drunk Driving Laws in Iowa

  • In America, it is the responsibility of each individual state to determine their own laws and regulations for drunk driving and driving under the influence. In Iowa specifically, driving while intoxicated can result in an OWI/DUI charge, with conviction resulting in serious fines, penalties, and other consequences (even for first-time offenders).

    All drivers licensed and registered in the state of Iowa have a responsibility to not only be aware of the state's drunk driving laws, but to obey them as well.

    Iowa Drunk Driving Laws and Limits

    In Iowa, driving while intoxicated is charged as Operating While Intoxicated (OWI). The specific blood alcohol limits for drunk driving in this state can vary, depending on the driver's age and whether or not the driver carries a commercial license.

    For drivers under the age of 21, anybody with a blood alcohol level of .02% or greater can be charged with OWI. For drivers age 21 and older, the legal limit is .08%.  For drivers carrying a commercial license, however, the legal limit is lower, at .04%.

    Potential Fines and Penalties for Convictions

    The potential fines and penalties you'll face if convicted of OWI in the state of Iowa can vary, depending on a number of factors. One of the biggest determining factors is whether or not this is your first offense. For first-time OWI offenders, there is a maximum penalty of one year in jail, along with maximum fines of $1,200 and 180 days of license suspension. If your blood alcohol level was .10% or higher at the time of arrest, your may also be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle.

    For a second-time offense, the maximum jail sentence increases to two years, and fines increase significantly to a maximum of $6,250. It is also possible that your license will be suspended for up to two years, and you will automatically be required to have an ignition interlock device placed on your car.

    For third-time offenders, maximum jail times increase yet again to five years, and fines can reach nearly $10,000. Your license can be suspended for up to six years, and you will be required to have an ignition interlock device installed on your vehicle.

    Some other potential penalties associated with a drunk driving charge in Iowa include:

    • mandatory substance abuse treatment
    • community service
    • vehicle impoundment.

    It is also worth noting that in the state of Iowa, you can automatically have your driver's license revoked if you refuse to take a sobriety test when requested by an officer. This license revocation can range anywhere from one to two years, depending on the specific circumstances.

    What to Do if You're Facing a Drunk Driving Charge in Iowa

    If you have been arrested and charged with OWI in the state of Iowa, you may be wondering what steps to take next. It's important to understand just how much of an impact even a first-time OWI conviction could have on your life and your livelihood, which is why consulting with an experienced legal team is always in your best interest.

    A lawyer experienced with drunk driving cases will be able to assess your situation and explore potential defense strategies that could result in having your charges dropped or reduced. For example, if it can be proven that the arresting officer was unjustified in pulling you over to begin with, it may be possible to argue for your charges to be dropped. Even in a situation where there is no defense against your OWI charge, an experienced lawyer may be able to negotiate a plea bargain so that your penalties and fines are lessened.

    Hopefully, you'll never be in a situation where you're facing OWI charges in Iowa. If you are, however, be sure to consult with a DUI/OWI attorney sooner rather than later.