DUI in Iowa

If you find yourself charged with a DUI in Iowa, you’ll be fighting a two-front battle.  First, you’ll have to deal with the DMV, and then you’ll have to handle your court case.  Both entities can hit you with very stiff fines and penalties.

DUI Charges

DUIs in Iowa fall under two codes: one involves dangerous driving while under the influence, and the other involves driving with a blood alcohol level over .08 per cent.  Note that the DUI laws in Iowa are very specific: to be charged with drunk driving, you must actually be operating the vehicle.  Sitting in a car that is not running is not covered by that definition.  You must be in the driver’s seat and the car must be running for you to be charged with a DUI.

Possible drunk driving offenses in Iowa include:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or combination of these
  • Driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or greater
  • If a commercial driver, driving with a BAC of .04 or greater
  • If under 21, driving with a BAC of .02 or greater

Note that Iowa has zero tolerance for drunk drivers under the age of 21.  If they are found driving with a blood alcohol content of .02 to .08 per cent, they will have their license suspended for 60 days.

Iowa DUI Penalties


Court Fines Potential Jail Time License Suspension
1st Conviction $500-1,000 2 days - 1 year 6 months
2nd Conviction $1,500-5,000 7 days - 2 years 2 years - 6 years
3rd Conviction $2,500-7,500 Minimum 30 days 6 years

It is important to remember that penalties vary based on an individual's case.  It is best to talk to a DUI lawyer who can advise you on your particular circumstances.  He or she may be able to bring any penalties down to a minimum or even get your case dismissed.

The Court

If you are convicted in court of drunk driving, you face one of several consequences depending on prior convictions.  Your first DUI is a misdemeanor and carries a minimum of two days and a maximum of one year in jail and a fine of no more than $1,500.  You can, however, have your sentence deferred if you took a breath test at the time of arrest, had a blood alcohol level of less than .05 per cent, have no prior DUIs, and did not injure anyone. Note that a DUI in any state can count as a prior offense.

Your second offense has harsher penalties: up to two years in prison and a fine between $1,850 and $5,000.  Your third DUI in Iowa carries a prison sentence of one month to five years and a fine between $2,500 and $7,500.  It also counts as a Class D felony.

The DMV

After being charged with a DUI in Iowa, you’ll have to go before the DMV board to plead your case.  The DMV has the authority to suspend your driver’s license if they find you guilty.  Your first DUI earns you a 180 day suspension.  Each following DUI is punishable by a one year suspension.  If you refuse to take the breath test, your license will be suspended for a year after your first DUI and for two years for your second and every subsequent charge.

Chemical Testing and Implied Consent Laws

Under Iowa state law, any licensed person operating a motor vehicle automatically gives his or her consent to an approved test (blood, breath, or urine) for the purposes of showing intoxication.  Any driver refusing to take a chemical test is subject to license revocation for one to two years.

Blood tests must be explicitly consented to and be administered by a doctor, nurse, or other licensed personnel using new equipment under sanitary conditions.  A driver accused of a DUI offense also has the right to request a second, independent, chemical test at his or her own expense.  Other chemical tests must be administered by a qualified person according to approved methods by the Commission of Public Safety.

A driver failing the breath test as a first time offense with a BAC of over .10 will have his or her license revoked and will be forced to install an ignition interlock device in order to qualify for a restriced license.

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