Under the DUI laws in Iowa, drivers who operate their vehicles with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal limit will be charged with operating while intoxicated (OWI). OWI offenses lead to severe consequences due to the risk of injuring or causing the death of individuals when driving under the influence of intoxicants.

In addition to the immediate penalties administered by the state Department of Transportation (DOT), motorists convicted of a DUI violation will also be subjected to certain criminal penalties by the presiding state courts. Learn what to do when charged with a DUI after committing an OWI violation and find out how to reinstate your suspended or a revoked credential by reading the sections outlined below.

Iowa DUI Citations and Convictions

Drivers can be cited for violating the drunk driving laws in Iowa if they are stopped by a police officer on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Note that motorists can also incur a DUI ticket for refusing to undergo a breath, urine or blood test for purposes of determining the presence of intoxicants, regardless of whether or not they were operating under the influence.

If subjected to a warranted arrest, drivers will be immediately penalized with a license suspension of varying lengths. Upon conviction, drivers will also be subjected to certain criminal penalties that will generally include steep fines and prison sentences. A DUI conviction will also be entered as a misdemeanor or a felony on the driver’s record, depending on the circumstances surrounding the violation.

Iowa DUI Violations and Penalties

Motorists who commit a DUI violation in Iowa are typically penalized with a combination of administrative and criminal penalties, which vary based on the severity of the offense. For example, habitual offenders who have several DUI convictions on their records will incur higher fines and longer driving license suspension periods and jail sentences.

First DUI Offense

Violating Iowa impaired driving laws for the first time is an offense that results in a license suspension of 180 days to 12 months and a fine of $1,250. First DUI violations also lead to jail sentences of up to one year with a mandatory jail time of 48 hours. Instead of a fine, certain drivers will be punished with an unpaid community service sentence.

Second DUI Offense

Second DUI violations in Iowa are treated as aggravated misdemeanors that result in a license revocation of up to two years and two-year jail sentences with a minimum jail stay of seven days. Second-time offenders will also be required to pay $1,875 to $6,250 in fines. Second or subsequent OWI offenses lead to the seizure of the offender’s vehicle as well.

Third DUI Offense

Committing a third or subsequent DUI offense in Iowa will result in a driving license revocations of up to six years and maximum jail time of five years. Note that offenders will be required to serve at least 30 days of their prison term. Third or subsequent violations will also lead to maximum fines of $9,375.

Underage DUI

Drivers younger than 21 years of age who commit an underage DUI violation in Iowa generally have their credentials revoked for two months for their first DUI violation and three months for subsequent offenses. Young motorists who refuse to take the BAC test will have their credentials revoked for a period of one to two years. Also, minor drivers are not eligible for a hardship license while completing their suspension period.

Iowa DUI Attorneys

Drivers who hire a DUI lawyer in Iowa when the state brings drunk driving charges against them will greatly improve their chances of obtaining a favorable outcome on their case. Even if your chances of avoiding conviction is small, a good drunk driving attorney in IA can help you minimize your potential fines and penalties.

In addition to helping you prepare your defense and representing you in court, your OWI lawyer will also explain the exact laws that you have violated and the potential sanctions that you may incur. Prior to hiring a professional to handle your case, however, schedule a meeting with several attorneys to inquire about their fees and past experiences of managing OWI cases like your own.

Iowa Open Container Laws

Motorists will also be in violation of Iowa impaired driving laws if they operate their vehicles with an open container of any type of alcoholic beverage with them. To reduce the risk of committing a DUI offense, drivers must ensure they transport any alcoholic beverages in the vehicle’s storage compartment. Note that this law applies to passengers within the vehicle, as well.

Reinstating a Suspended Drivers License in Iowa

Committing a DUI violation in Iowa results in a driver getting their license suspended for a certain period of time depending on the severity of their offense. Drivers who have violated the state driving laws will therefore be unable to operate their motor vehicles until they complete the license reinstatement procedure with the state DOT.

However, prior to restoring a credential, applicants will generally be required to meet the following conditions:

  • Meet any court-imposed requirements.
  • Enroll in DUI classes within the state.
  • Participate in a substance abuse evaluation and rehabilitation program.
  • Install an ignition interlock device (if required).
  • Obtain proof of a valid auto insurance coverage (if required).

Note: If you drive a vehicle with while your license is suspended or revoked, you may be penalized with a $1,000 fine for committing a misdemeanor and your vehicle may be impounded.

Iowa Alcohol Awareness Classes

Attending DUI classes in Iowa is a mandatory step for drivers whose driving credentials were revoked as a result of a DUI violation within the state. Note that the DUI course is not available via the internet and drivers will be required to locate a traffic school program that was approved by the state.

This specialized course for motorists who have violated the state drunk driving laws generally lasts for 12 hours, and participants will be required to cover the course costs. By participating in a DUI course in Iowa, drivers will improve their knowledge of the effects of intoxicants on their ability to safely operate a vehicle.

Iowa SR-22 Insurance

Submitting proof of valid DUI insurance in Iowa is often a mandatory step when reinstating a license that was revoked as a result of a DUI violation. The standard procedure requires DUI insurance companies in IA to submit the SR-22 form to the Office of Driver Services of the state DOT on behalf of the driver. Note that motorists younger than 21 years of age may not be required to provide proof of a DUI insurance.

Iowa Laws That Pertain to DUI/DWI

Under Iowa drunk driving laws, drivers are prohibited from operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or while their BAC level is greater than the legal limit within the state. Adult drivers, for instance, are prohibited from driving with a BAC level of .08, whereas motorists younger than 21 years of age are at risk of a DUI ticket even with a BAC level of .02 percent.

Note that under the implied consent law, motorists who refuse to have their BAC measured are penalized with longer driver’s license suspensions than drivers who submit to testing. Also, IA DUI offenses that were committed with an extremely high BAC level result in enhanced penalties.

Hardship License in Iowa

Drivers with a suspended license due to a DUI will be prohibited from operating a vehicle while their period of suspension or revocation is in effect. The state DOT, however, offers motorists with s suspend license the option to apply for a hardship license, known within the state as a temporary restricted license.

This credential serves as a work permit that allows drivers to travel to and from their places of employment. Motorists whose credentials were revoked due to a DUI offense in IA will be able to apply for a temporary restricted license after ensuring they meet the following requirements:

  • They are older than 18 years of age.
  • They have completed a certain portion of their DUI violation-related revocation (if required).
  • They hold a standard non-commercial license.
  • They were not convicted of serious traffic violations.
  • They have installed an ignition interlock device (if required).

Note: Since the above list only contains the general requirements for a hardship license, drivers are encouraged to contact a local DMV office in Iowa to inquire about the requirements that apply to their specific circumstances.

Last updated on Wednesday, March 4 2020.