Motor vehicles are everywhere, and there is an assumption that those operating them are doing so in a safe and lawful manner. The privilege to operate a vehicle comes with this responsibility; however, traffic violations occur. When they do, the officer involved may suspect that you are under the influence of a substance that impairs your ability to safely operate the vehicle. After conducting field sobriety tests or a breathalyzer, you may find they are arresting you for operating while intoxicated (OWI).
For over four decades, the team at McGuire Law, PLC, has been defending clients against OWI charges, commonly known as driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI). With our compassion and knowledge, we analyze our clients’ cases to ensure they receive the defense they deserve. No two cases are alike, and our team individualizes our defense strategy to fit the circumstances you face.
In Iowa, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while impaired by drugs, alcohol, or a combination of both. When a driver consumes these products, their physical and mental abilities are impaired, and they are no longer able to operate the vehicle in a safe or lawful manner. When a driver does, they put other drivers, pedestrians, and their passengers at risk for injury or death.
The measurement of impairment, specifically for alcohol, is measured by a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC). Iowa drivers may not operate a vehicle with a BAC greater than .08%. Some drivers believe that this is equivalent to the consumption of two drinks, but a person’s BAC is additionally influenced by their weight, height, and sex. If a person is under the age of 21, their BAC may not exceed .02%.
If a person is stopped for a motor vehicle violation or under suspicion of committing another type of crime, they may be subjected to a blood test. This may reveal the presence of drugs in the body. In some cases, weeks may have passed since they took the drug. Even if the individual is no longer under the effects of the drug, they may be charged with OWI if there is any evidence of drugs returned from the test.
When there is suspicion of alcohol in the driver’s system, the officer on scene may issue a field sobriety test or a breathalyzer to measure the impairment of the driver. In addition, Iowa courts allow officer testimony to serve as evidence. Their testimony may include observable evidence, the smell of alcohol, the demeanor or behavior of the suspect, or physical descriptions of the suspect and the indicators of impairment.
If you are arrested for OWI, your license will be immediately subjected to administrative penalties that could include temporary suspension or revocation. If you are further convicted of the crime, the administrative penalties will be compounded with criminal penalties, the severity of which is dependent on the circumstances of your case, prior OWI convictions, and any additional infractions committed. Penalties you could face include:
These criminal penalties are not all you could face if you are convicted. Additional penalties include a substance abuse evaluation with mandatory completion of any recommended treatment. If the evaluation is completed for a second or subsequent offense, a court could order you to complete treatment at an inpatient facility. If this is mandated, the time in the facility, either determined by the judge or the treatment program, will be applied to any jail sentence imposed.
You will incur the costs of completing a substance abuse education program designed specifically for drinking and driving offenses.
After treatment, you could face probation, which will additionally mandate participation in a substance abuse prevention program or in a posttreatment service.
Lastly, if your conviction is your second or subsequent one, your vehicle may be impounded for the duration of your license revocation or for up to 180 days, whichever amount of time is greater.
No two OWI cases are the same, and the circumstances surrounding yours will determine the defense strategy your criminal defense attorney will recommend. However, lawyers look for common errors in OWI cases that could allow the opportunity to have the case dismissed or to gain an acquittal. Common defense strategies include:
These defenses are not the extent of available options, but they do represent the most common areas of an OWI case that can help the defensive strategy.
Criminal charges of any kind can be frightening and confusing and can leave you filled with questions. The compassionate and knowledgeable team at McGuire Law, PLC, understands this, which is why we take time to understand our client’s circumstances. The consequences you could face for an OWI conviction extend beyond fines and jail. With impacts on your ability to work and your source of income, you could also face a significant financial burden. With the help of our experienced attorneys, you don’t have to fight alone. Contact our offices today.