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What is a DUI and DWI in Iowa?

DUI or DWI is referred to as Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) in Iowa. OWI are traffic offenses that involve driving under the influence of a substance and driving with a blood-alcohol level of.08%. A person charged with OWI in Iowa is specifically operating the vehicle while drunk or under a drug or substance influence. In other words, a person sitting at the passenger seat of a moving vehicle or a person sitting in the driver’s seat of a parked vehicle cannot be charged with OWI. All OWI cases are first brought to the District Court for trial, and they can be appealed to the Court of Appeal. The Motor Vehicle Division of the Department of Transportation is responsible for imposing driving penalties on OWI offenders.

What is the Difference Between a DUI and a DWI in Iowa?

In the State of Iowa, drunk driving or driving under the influence of a substance or drug are all considered Operating While Intoxicated (OWI). The same penalty applies to the person who operates a vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance and a drunk driver. According to the transportation law stated in §321J.2, a person commits an OWI offense when;

  • The vehicle is operated while under the influence of a controlled substance. A controlled substance means any drug, substance, or compound listed in the Iowa code §124.204.
  • The vehicle is operated under the influence of an alcoholic beverage
  • The vehicle is operated under the influence of a combination of drugs and alcoholic beverage.
  • Operates a vehicle while having a blood- alcohol concentration of at least 0.08.
  • Operates a vehicle while having an amount of controlled substance in the body when measured in the person’s blood or urine.

What happens when you get a DUI for the First Time in Iowa?

Once a driver is caught violating a traffic law, the arresting officer performs a field sobriety test to prove that the individual is Operating While Intoxicated, and then such a person is arrested. The first thing that happens after been arrested for OWI is that the Motor Vehicle Division(MVD) of the Department of Transportation(DOT) in the state will revoke the offender’s driver’s license for a failed chemical test. A failed chemical test means that the offender’s Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) is 0.08 or more for a private person, 0.04 for a commercial driver, and 0.02 for a juvenile driver. Iowa’s MVD can also revoke the license and the driving privileges of a person who fails to take the chemical test for up to a year. For an offender to obtain a temporary license, such a person will have to pay a $200 fine to the MVD and install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). The IID is a compulsory installation throughout the restricted license.

Secondly, the offender is tried at the district court who decides on the deserving penalty imposed on the offender. According to the transportation law concerning OWI, the penalty for a first time OWI offender includes;

  • Up to one year but not less than 48hours jail sentencing
  • A fine of up to $1,500 but not less than $1,250
  • A 32% surcharge, 10% Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE), charges on drinking drivers course and substance abuse evaluation
  • A revocation of driver’s license for up to 180 days
  • Restitution fee of at most $500

The strictness of penalty for a first-time OWI offender depends on the BAC level, the willingness to take all chemical tests, and the fatality of an accident caused by an intoxicated vehicle operator. For instance, when a first time OWI offender with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) below 0.15 is involved in an accident that does not result in any bodily injury or harm to another person or property, such person may qualify for a deferred judgment. Such a person may escape a jail sentence but must pay a fine of at least $1,250. In other words, where there is no damage caused by the intoxicated vehicle operator;

  • The judge can waive up to $625 of the total fine
  • The judge can assign community service in lieu of fine
  • The offender can get up to one-year probation
  • The offender must take courses like substance abuse evaluation, drunk driver’s education.
  • The offender may be able to apply for a restricted license instead of revoking the license. BAC not more than 0.10 qualifies an offender for installing an ignition interlock device on the vehicle. In contrast, a BAC of more than.15 qualifies an offender to obtain a restricted license after 30 days.

A person charged with OWI can contest the charges once arrest flaws can be identified; prove that the BAC test is inaccurate, or prove that the checkpoint was illegal. If an offender can also prove that the substances or drugs were prescribed by medical personnel or a pharmacist. However, OWI charges must be accurately contested to avoid the imposition of stricter penalties. A well-contested case may lead to the case dismissal.

How Likely is Jail Time After a First DUI in Iowa?

A person is likely sentenced to jail time for subsequent OWI committed. OWI is seen as a criminal offense. The first time offender is charged for a severe misdemeanor, the second offender is charged for an aggravated misdemeanor. A third-time offender is charged with a Class D felony. Based on Iowa Code §903.1.2 and §321J.2.4a, a second-time offender charged with an aggravated misdemeanor will serve at most two years of jail time. §321J.2.5a states that a third time OWI offender may serve an indeterminate time at the department of corrections, which must not exceed five years or serve at least thirty days of jail time.

What are the Typical Penalties for a DWI Conviction in Iowa?

The penalties for an OWI conviction depend on; the severity of damages, the number of OWI convictions, the level of BAC, and the offender’s acceptance of taking the chemical test. Different charges are depending on the number of times an offender is convicted of OWI. The charges and penalties are stated below:

  • First Time Offender

According to Iowa code §321J.2.2a, the first time OWI offender is charged with a serious misdemeanor. The jail time is between two days and one year, which depends on the personal injury or property damage resulting from OWI. Jail time also depends on the BAC level. A first time offender is liable for a fine of up to $1,250 plus a 35% surcharge and $500 restitution fee. The court can waive up to $625 and order community service in place of a fine. A first time offender will get a revocation of driver’s license for six months if such a person fails the chemical test or one year for refusing to take a chemical test. An Ignition Interlock Device (IID) is installed in the offender’s vehicle for the period the offender gets a restricted license. Educational classes like Drug Abuse Resistance Education, substance abuse evaluation and drunk driver’s education are compulsory; offenders pay a $10 surcharge for the courses.

  • Second Time Offender

An OWI is a second offense when the offender has a prior OWI conviction or a deferred judgment within the last twelve years in any state. Iowa code §321J.2.2b states that a second-time offender commits an aggravated misdemeanor. Such an offender can be sentenced to a minimum of seven days in a county jail or correctional facility, but not more than two years. A second-time offender is liable to a fine of at most $6,250 but not less than $1,875, including a 35% surcharge and $500 restitution fee (if any). The driver’s license of such person will be revoked for one year if such person fails the chemical test, but two years if the individual refuses to take the chemical test. As a commercial driver, the license will be revoked permanently. A second-time offender must take DARE, substance abuse evaluation, and drinking drivers course, and pay a $10 surcharge for the courses.

  • Third Time Offender

The life of a third-time offender has spoiled. According to §321J.2.2c, a third offender commits a class D felony and is seen as a habitual offender. A third-time offender must serve at least 30 days of jail time at a county jail or committed to the department of corrections department for an indeterminate period, which must not exceed five years. A habitual offender’s license is revoked for six years, and a vehicle cannot be registered under such an offender’s name. A third-time offender can be charged up to $9,375 but not less than $3,125, including a 35% surcharge and a $500 restitution fee (if any). The offender must take DARE, substance abuse evaluation, and drinking driver courses and pay a $10 surcharge for the courses.

  • Severe Personal Injury

If an accident led to a serious personal injury caused by an OWI offender, there would be a compulsory five years of jail time for the offender. Such offenders must pay a fine of up to $7,500 but not lower than $750, including a 35% surcharge, $125 Law Enforcement Initiative, $500 restitution fee, and $10 DARE surcharge for substance abuse evaluation and treatment and drinking driver’s course.

  • Homicide

If the accident caused by an OWI offender leads to death, then the offender must face a jail time of not less than twenty-five years. The offender must pay a fine of up to $10,000 but not less than $1,000, including a 35% surcharge, a $125 Law Enforcement Initiative surcharge, $150,000 restitution to the victim’s estate. The offender must take DARE for substance abuse evaluation and treatment and, drinking driver’s course for which such offender must pay a $10 surcharge.

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in Iowa?

An OWI conviction stays on a person’s driving record for twelve years for sentencing. An OWI offender’s criminal record can be expunged after 180 days if the case was deferred and has completed the terms of deferral. Apart from deferred cases, an OWI conviction stays on a person’s criminal record permanently.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How do I Find DUI Checkpoints in Iowa?

Iowa Code §321K.1 states how law enforcement agencies should conduct roadblocks. In other words, a sobriety checkpoint or OWI checkpoint is illegal in Iowa.

Which is Worse; a DUI or DWI in Iowa?

Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) is used in Iowa to cover for both DUI and DWI. An offender gets the same punishment whether such offender was under the influence of substances or drugs, or alcohol.

What is an Aggravated DWI in Iowa?

An aggravated OWI is an elevation of the OWI charge from a serious misdemeanor. The following are some of what can make up an aggravated OWI;

  • A previous OWI conviction; if an offender has had an OWI conviction or a deferral within the last twelve years.
  • Being charged for an OWI while driving with a revoked or invalid license.
  • A first OWI conviction with a fatal accident that involves a serious personal injury of another person.
  • A vehicular manslaughter is an aggravated OWI.
  • An OWI offender with children in the car. Whether there is bodily harm to the children or not, the charge remains an aggravated OWI.
  • Driving over 30mph over the speed limit and having a BAC level over 20% of the legal limit. It is worse for persons under twenty-one years old who refuse to submit to a chemical test.
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