Last year, Iowa enacted an updated DUI law that results in more ignition interlock devices having to be installed when a person is convicted of operating a vehicle while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs. It is important to understand the changes that this law made and other consequences that a person convicted of OWI may face.
Requirement to Install an Ignition Interlock Device
The new law requires that anyone convicted of OWI, including first-time offenders, must install an ignition interlock device if they have a temporary restricted license. This requirement also applies to someone found to have been impaired by drugs. Previously, individuals convicted of OWI, who had a blood alcohol content of between .08 to .10 and who were first-time offenders, were exempt from the requirement to install an ignition interlock device.
Other Changes Adopted by the New Law
The new law isn’t all bad news. The previous law only allowed individuals who had temporary restricted licenses to travel to and from work and school. Most of these restrictions are now lifted. A motorist with an OWI conviction can travel anywhere in the state like any other motorist as long as they have an ignition interlock device installed.
Another change in the OWI law is the removal of hard suspension periods for most OWI convictions. These hard suspensions prevented a person from obtaining a temporary restricted license for a certain period of time. For example, a first-time OWI offender, who had a breath test of .150 or more, would be required to wait 30 days before being able to obtain a temporary restricted license. Individuals who refused to take a test were required to wait for 90 days before they could get this license. The new law has eliminated these suspension periods except for cases in which the motorist is convicted of vehicular homicide by OWI or OWI causing a death.
These changes were implemented to simplify the temporary restricted license process, encourage more OWI offenders to install an ignition interlock device, reduce drunk-driving accidents, and provide more freedom to people convicted of OWI. The changes are expected to save the state $900,000.
Requirements to Obtain a Temporary Restricted License
To acquire a temporary restricted license, you must pay a $200 civil penalty. You must also provide proof of financial responsibility, which is done by completing form SR-22. You will also have to provide proof that you installed an ignition interlock device. You must keep the TRL lift letter in your vehicle at all times while operating your vehicle.
Other Penalties for Drunk Driving
People convicted of OWI in Iowa face many other penalties. The severity of the penalty depends on how many convictions the motorist has.
A first conviction of OWI is considered a serious misdemeanor charge. This charge can result when a person has not been convicted of an OWI charge within the last 12 years. The minimum amount of jail time for this offense is 48 hours. The maximum jail sentence is one year in jail, which can be suspended if you submitted to a chemical test, had a blood alcohol content level of .15, and have no prior OWI convictions. Additionally, you may be required to pay fines up to $1,250. Half of these fines can be waived if you have a temporary restricted license and if no serious injuries were sustained from the incident. Your license will be suspended for 180 days. The court could require you to complete community service instead of paying the fines. The court will also require you to undergo a substance abuse evaluation and complete any recommended substance abuse program. You will also be required to attend a course for drinking drivers.
A second conviction is considered an aggravated misdemeanor. The mandatory minimum jail sentence is seven days. The maximum jail sentence is two years in jail. You will have to pay fines between $1,875 to $6,250. The court has the discretion to order community service instead of requiring you to pay fines. You will also be subject to a license suspension for up to two years. You will be required to undergo a substance abuse evaluation and complete recommended substance abuse program. You will also be required to attend the course for drinking drivers.
Third or Subsequent Conviction
A third or subsequent conviction is considered a Class D felony. Mandatory jail time is 30 days. The maximum term of imprisonment is five years. Fines are between $3,125 and $9,375. Your license will be suspended for six years. You will be required to undergo a substance abuse evaluation and complete recommended substance abuse program. You may even be ordered to attend in-patient treatment.
For any of these offenses, you may be required to pay restitution to the victim if your drinking caused an accident. Also, the judge can order you to pay emergency response restitution if the accident required the assistance of police, ambulance, firefighters, or other emergency services.
How an Experienced DUI Lawyer Can Help
DUI is a serious offense. A conviction can alter your future and put your employment in jeopardy. When fighting against such major consequences, it is important to have a skilled advocate on your side. An experienced DUI lawyer will be familiar with the local courts and procedures and will use this intimate knowledge to advance your interests. He or she is knowledgeable about various legal deadlines, including requesting evidence from law enforcement that may help your case, and will meet these deadlines so that your legal rights are preserved.
A knowledgeable DUI lawyer can investigate your case and determine if there were factors that resulted in an unreliable test result. He or she may file a pretrial motion to suppress negative evidence in your case. In some DUI cases, it may be possible to negotiate a favorable plea bargain with a local prosecutor that minimizes the penalties you face. An experienced DUI lawyer can negotiate with tough prosecutors.
Contact 303 Legal, P.C., for Help with Your Drunk Driving Charge
For highly skilled legal representation in defending you against drunk driving charges, contact 303 Legal, P.C., for assistance. Our skilled DUI lawyers can discuss your legal rights and options. We will work diligently on your behalf to pursue a favorable outcome of your case. We represent individuals throughout Cedar Rapids and the surrounding areas. Contact us today to schedule a confidential consultation with a knowledgeable DUI lawyer.