Driving under influence (DUI) or operating while intoxicated/impaired (OWI) is an offence committed when a driver operates a vehicle after the consumption of alcohol or drugs or other intoxicants. Increased alcohol levels in the driver's blood lead to diminished mental and motor reactions which, in turn, reduce the driver's ability to control the vehicle. This significantly increases the risk of the driver committing errors of judgment and often results in accidents causing severe injuries and even death.
In Iowa, as in the rest of the US, drunk driving is the single largest cause of motor vehicle related fatalities and accounts for an alarmingly high 40% to 50% of the total number of motor vehicle related deaths every year.
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REGULATIONS FOR DUI/DWI IN IOWA
In Iowa, the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit is set at 0.08% for drivers over 21 years of age and it is set at 0.02% for those under 21. For commercial drivers, the limit is set at 0.04%.
Having an Iowa license automatically provides your consent to be tested if stopped by a law enforcement officer, while driving. This is the law of "implied consent" and can be used by the officer to test you if you are stopped on the suspicion of drunk driving, either through a breathalyser test or by an actual blood test to check the BAC. Refusing to take the chemical test will result in your license being revoked for a year.
Points will be added to your driving record and your license will be suspended or revoked, if you convicted of DUI/OWI. The number of points assessed, depend on the severity of the offense and the number of times you have been convicted for it.
ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR DRIVERS OVER 21:
If you are over 21 years old, and are caught with BAC higher than the set limit of 0.08%, you may be subjected to criminal actions in addition to administrative actions. If the DUI/ODWI incident you are involved in is subjected to criminal action, it is recommended that you get in touch with a DUI/OWI lawyer as they are experts at handling such incidents and can offer you the best advice.
- The first offense is treated as a serious misdemeanor and will result in imprisonment of two days (it can even be up to one year) and up to a $1000 fine. Also, if convicted for a first offense BAC or OWI (BAC over 0.08%) or for driving under the influence of a controlled substance:
- 4 points will be added to your driving record.
- Your license will be suspended for 180 days.
- You may be required to do community service and complete a course for drinking drivers.
- You will have to undergo a substance abuse evaluation and treatment program.
- You may apply for a temporary restricted license provided the BAC level was below 0.15%. If your BAC level was 0.15% or more you must wait for 30 days before applying for a restricted license. If BAC level was 0.10% or more you will have to install an ignition interlock device.
- The second offense or two offenses in 12 years is treated as an aggravated misdemeanor and will result in imprisonment of seven days or up to two years and a fine of $1500 to $5000. Also, if convicted for the second offense of OWI:
- Your license will be revoked for two years.
- You will not be eligible for a temporary restricted license for one year.
- The third offense or three offenses in 12 years is treated as a Class D Felony and will result in imprisonment of 30 days or up to seven years and a fine of $2,500 to $7,500. Also, if convicted for the third offense of OWI:
- Your license will be revoked for six years.
- You may apply for a restricted license after one year provided an ignition interlock device is installed in the vehicle.
ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR DRIVERS UNDER 21
- As per the "0.02/Zero Tolerance" law if your BAC level is 0.02% or more, your license will be suspended or revoked for 60 days after the first violation and for 90 days after the second violation.
- If you refuse to submit to chemical testing your license will be revoked for one year and for two years for a subsequent violation.
- You are not eligible for a temporary restricted license until the revocation period is over.
- Apart from these actions, penalties mentioned above for drivers over 21, may also apply to minors if they are convicted of DUI/OWI.
ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI FOR COMMERCIAL VEHICLE DRIVERS
If you drive a commercial vehicle and hold a commercial driver license (CDL):
- You will be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for a year, if you are convicted for your BAC being higher than 0.04%.
- You will be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for at least three years, if you are convicted for your BAC being higher than 0.04% while transporting hazardous materials.
- If there is any detectable amount of alcohol in your system, even if it is under 0.04%, you will be put out-of-service for 24 hours.
- You will be barred from driving a commercial vehicle for life if you are convicted for any of these offenses for the second time.
- Apart from these actions, penalties mentioned above for drivers over 21, may also apply to commercial drivers for their first and second offenses of DUI/OWI. The other penalties do not apply since they are barred after the second offense.
ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIONS AGAINST DUI/DWI:
Administrative action against DUI/OWI comes into immediate effect and is apart from any criminal action which is decided by the courts.
Your first offence will result in a mandatory revocation of license for 180 days and a second offence within 12 years will result in a one year revocation of license. You may apply for a temporary restricted license but if your BAC level is over 0.15% you have to wait 30 days before applying and if it is a second violation you have to wait for one year before you can get a temporary restricted license.
You are entitled to an administrative hearing but it is a good idea to consult a DUI/OWI lawyer before you schedule a hearing.
LICENSE REINSTATEMENT AFTER DUI/DWI SUSPENSION/REVOCATION:
If you are convicted of DUI/DWI, it will result in your license being suspended or revoked. This means that your driving privileges will be taken away and you will need to apply for a reinstatement of your license with the Department of Transportation, once the period of suspension or revocation is over. Reinstating a license after a suspension of a year, or revocation will also mean taking the driving tests all over again. These will include the vision test, knowledge test and the road test. If you do not complete the reinstatement requirements, the license will remain suspended or revoked.
- To complete the reinstatement requirements, you must prove that you have successfully completed a course for drinking drivers, present proof that you have completed a substance abuse evaluation and treatment program, pay the $200 civil penalty, and maintain proof of financial responsibility, if applicable, by filing SR-22 certificate from your insurer.
- If you are being convicted for a second time, it is mandatory for the court to order an ignition interlock device to be placed for breathalyser tests on any vehicle you drive.
- Contact the local DOT office for more information on reinstatement requirements and where to apply.
- DUI/DWI has been a major cause of death and injury in our nation and it is our duty to prevent such needless pain and suffering. Simply: If you drink, DON'T DRIVE! If we all follow this rule to the letter - thousands of lives will be saved each year.
- If you have been charged with a DUI/DWI get help from a DUI/DWI Lawyer.
- See also Suspended License, Point System and Traffic Ticket Lawyers.
- For any level of offence involving personal injury caused by OWI, your license will be revoked for one year in addition to period of any other revocation. You will also be required to install an ignition interlock device.
- If you drive while your license is revoked for OWI, you will have to pay a $1000 fine. Your vehicle may also be impounded.