Iowa DUI penalties

Iowa DUI laws and penalties

Each State within the United States has been given the authority to write their own laws on Driving Under the Influence, or better known as DUI. Within this article we will explore the different DUI laws within the State of Iowa, and their penalties. To begin with, there is what is known as a 12 year "Lookback Period", meaning any prior DUI's you have within that 12 year period of time will become relevant to the sentencing you are now facing with your current DUI. This is also known as a "washout" period. The State of Iowa also uses the term OWI, or Operating While Intoxicated, to refer to a drunk driving infraction, or a DUI. 

What constitutes a high BAC for a OWI/DUI in Iowa?

  • Under 21: .02%
  • 21 or Older: .08%
  • Commercial: .04%

There is never an acceptable time to drink and drive, as your vision, reasoning, along with your mental capactity to make important decisions and judgments are severely hindered and are not capable of bouncing back to what you were capable to perform without alcohol in your system. Each person is different and their tolerance for aclohol is severely unpredictable, making it impossible to say how many drinks are "normal" or not. This is what requries law enforcement to perform a chemical test on suspecting OWI/DUI offenders. If you are pulled over and are requested to take a chemical test to determine your BAC, or Blood Alcohol Content, the State of Iowa has an implied consent law. This means that if you refuse to submit to a chemical test you will be subject to a fine and automatic license suspension. For refusal to take the chemical test, the penalties will be as follows: 

  • First Offense: 1 year license suspension
  • Second Offense: 2 year license suspension
  • Third Offense: 2 year license suspension

What are the penalties within the Iowa OWI/DUI laws?

There are several penalties within the Iowa OWI/DUI laws, and we will explore them in this section. Should you be pulled over and found guilty of Driving Under the Influence, or Operating While Intoxicated, within the boarders of the State of Iowa, the following are the penalties you will be facing:

Penalty of Jail

  • First Offense: 48 hours up to 1 year
  • Second Offense: 7 days up to 2 years
  • Third Offense: 30 days up to 5 years

Penalties and Fines

  • First Offense: $625 to $1,200
  • Second Offense: $1,875 to $6,250
  • Third Offense: $3,125 to $9,375

Penalty of License Suspension

  • First Offense: 180 days
  • Second Offense: 2 years
  • Third Offense: 6 years

Penalty of Ignition Interlock Device (IID)

  • First Offense: Yes, if BAC is above .10
  • Second Offense: Yes
  • Third Offense: Yes

Additional Penalties the court may order

  • Substance Abuse Evaluation
  • Vehicle Impoundment or Immobilization
  • Program for the Supervision and Treatment of OWI/DUI Violators
  • Substance Abuse Treatment
  • Substance Abuse Reality Program
  • Attend Drinking Drivers Course
  • Community Service


It is important to note that laws change, as well as their interpretation and application of them. Due to the fact that there are multiple jurisdictions within a State and each may choose to enforce the law in different ways, it is important to prepare for the unexpected. For this reason, it would be in your best interest to retain the services of an experienced and professional DUI/OWI lawyer who is well versed in Iowa DUI laws, and is capable of giving you the direction you need for your specific case, as well as being fully aware of the current laws peratining to DUI/OWI.

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