DUI & DWI in Iowa
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Not many people know that drinking alcohol cuts your night vision in half and reduces your peripheral vision by up to one-third. And although they might make you feel good, barbiturates and other illegal drugs―and even many legal ones―actually substantially decrease your reaction time and mental alertness.
At your sharpest, one miscalculation while driving is all it takes to hurt yourself or someone else. Imagine the damage you could do by adding even a little booziness to the equation. Clearly, driving while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs can be very risky.
Operating while under the influence (OWI) endangers your own safety as well as the lives of those around you. If you are arrested for operating a motor vehicle while drugged or intoxicated, you may be charged with an OWI.
According to Iowa law, it is illegal to drive while under the influence of alcohol or street drugs. If your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is tested and found to be 0.08% or more, you will be arrested.
Sometimes Iowa residents refer to an OWI conviction as a DUI (driving under the influence) or a DWI (driving while intoxiated). While the terms may be different, they are the same offense under the law.
Iowa is one of many states that have an implied consent law. This means that you must submit to a blood, breath, or urine test if a law enforcement officer believes you have been drinking and driving.
If you refuse, your license will be taken away immediately for either one or two years. You will also need to attend a drunk-driver course and be evaluated and possibly treated for substance abuse.
It's pretty bad news to be convicted of OWI. The combination of heavy fines, jail time, loss of driving privileges, required counseling, and other penalties affects every facet of your life.
First conviction: If you are convicted of an OWI for the first time, you will be required to serve from two days to one year in jail and pay a fine up to $1,000. You will also lose your license for six months.
Second conviction: If it is your second offense within 12 years, you will lose your license for two years, be given a seven-day to two-year sentence, and be fined $1,500 to $5,000.
Third conviction: A third offense within a 12-year period is a Class D felony that will earn you up to five years in jail and a $2,500 to $7,500 fine. You'll lose your license for six years.
In addition to spending time behind bars, paying a hefty court fine, and losing your driving privileges, you will also need to complete a course for drinking drivers and undergo a substance abuse evaluation or treatment program―whether this is your third offense or your first. Iowa law requires that you pay for these services at your own expense. You'll also be hit with a $200 fine that goes toward the state's victim restitution fund.
If you are caught driving while your license is revoked, you'll be charged with another misdemeanor and ordered to pay a $1,000 fine.
If you are a new Iowa resident, it's important to realize that OWI convictions that occurred anywhere in the United States within the past 12 years will be used to determine whether your conviction in Iowa is a second or third offense.
To learn more about Iowa's OWI laws, download the OWI handout prepared by the Department of Transportation's Motor Vehicle Division.
To get your license reinstated after an OWI conviction, you'll need to show proof of your financial responsibility by filing an insurance SR-22 form with the Office of Driver Services. You'll also need to take the knowledge test, driving exam, and vision screening to be issued a new Iowa driver's license.
An OWI license revocation will remain on your driving record for 12 years. In addition to resulting in substantially higher auto insurance rates, this may also disqualify you from certain types of employment.
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