Charles City OWI Lawyer

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Earning the privilege to drive starts by learning the rules and laws of the road that are designed to keep everyone safe. At times, those laws are broken, and you may be pulled over for a moving violation by law enforcement. If you have been drinking or have consumed other substances that can impact your ability to follow the safety guidelines, that officer may conduct a field sobriety test or a breathalyzer. The results of these could have you arrested for operating while intoxicated (OWI)

Whether you know it as driving under the influence (DUI), driving while intoxicated (DWI), or OWI, the team at McGuire Law, PLC, knows that facing these charges can have severe consequences. Our team has defended clients from OWI charges for over 40 years with compassionate, knowledgeable, and skilled experience. We recognize that no two cases are alike and spend the time necessary to understand the uniqueness of your case and the consequences you could face.


Like many states, Iowa statutes make it illegal to operate a motor vehicle under the impairment of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. These substances impact your mental and physical abilities to drive and thereby impair your ability to keep yourself and others on the road safe from harm.

To determine impairment from alcohol, law enforcement uses field sobriety and breathalyzer tests. One tests your physical abilities, while the other measures your blood alcohol content (BAC). In Iowa, your BAC may not exceed .08% for those over 21 years of age and must stay below .02% for those under 21 years of age. .08% is often thought of as two drinks, but this myth fails to account for other impacts on your BAC, such as height, weight, age, and sex.

Impairment from drugs occurs when you are arrested and your blood is tested for their presence. If your blood is found to have drugs in it, regardless of when the drugs were consumed, you could be charged with an OWI. This occurs even if the effects of the drugs are no longer detectable.

Field sobriety tests are also used to determine impairment. These tests are used to determine a driver’s physical abilities and cognitive reactions. In addition to these subjective tests, Iowa courts will also allow the admission of law enforcement testimony to aid the prosecution in determining the impairment of the driver. This testimony can include demeanor, behavior, the smell of alcohol, observable symptoms of impairment, and more.

Penalties for OWI in Iowa

If you are arrested for OWI in Iowa, your license is subject to immediate suspension or revocation as an administrative penalty. If you are further convicted, your license will be subject to penalties in accordance with the number of OWI infractions you have. The severity of the penalties you face is determined not only by prior OWI convictions but the severity of your circumstances and the addition of any other charges. Potential penalties include:

  • For a first infraction, you could be facing up to $1,250 in fines, at most one year in jail, a suspension or revocation of your license for at least six months and up to one year, or if you want to continue to drive on a limited basis, an interlocking device on your car.
  • For a second infraction, you could be facing up to $6,250 in fines, a one to two-year license revocation, up to one year of an interlocking device on your vehicle, and up to two years in jail.
  • For a third infraction, you could be facing up to $9,375 in fines, up to five years in jail, a six-year license revocation, and an interlocking device installed on your vehicle for one year.

Beyond these criminal penalties, there are a number of other consequences that you could face. You will first be ordered to have a substance abuse evaluation with a resulting treatment plan that you must complete. If you’re convicted of your second or subsequent OWI, then you may be asked to complete an inpatient drug treatment program. The amount of time you are required to participate will be determined by the judge or the facility, but the time in treatment will be credited to any jail time you have been given.

You will be asked to complete a substance abuse educational program, the cost of which will be passed to you. This program is specific for drinking and driving offenders.

Once treatment is complete, you will be placed on probation, which will require further participation in substance abuse prevention programs or in post-treatment services.

Finally, if you are convicted of your second or subsequent conviction, your vehicle may be ordered to be impounded for the length of your license suspension or revocation or for 180 days, whichever is longer.

Common OWI Defense in Iowa

While the circumstances of any OWI crime are different, there are several common defenses that criminal defense attorneys will recommend. These defenses look to poke holes in the investigation, the arrest, and other common issues with OWI charges. These include:

  • Probable cause. In any legal matter, there must be probable cause for law enforcement interaction and subsequent arrest. You must be informed of each cause, and you must be told your rights through the process.
  • Field sobriety tests. Field sobriety tests are subjective in nature and require proper training of the law enforcement officer that is administering them. Often, these tests can create false results or results that are influenced by other factors such as fatigue, prescription medications, or other forms of impairment.
  • Breathalyzers. Breathalyzers are a great way to gather data for suspicion of impairment, but these devices are not always accurate. They could be miscalibrated, the test completed incorrectly, or a number of other issues could occur.
  • Unjustified stops. Before you can be arrested for OWI, you must first be stopped by law enforcement for a valid reason. Often, this is a moving violation, or you are suspected of committing another crime.

These defenses do not represent all available options but are common for criminal defense attorneys. Proving these can often push courts to dismiss OWI charges.

Charles City, Iowa OWI Attorney

OWI charges can be devastating. Not only could you face potential jail time, but you could also face hefty fines, out-of-court treatment, probation, and loss of driving privileges. At McGuire Law, PLC, our team understands the severity of these charges and works diligently and compassionately to defend you and protect your rights. Not every criminal charge means you are guilty, and we defend our clients by understanding their circumstances. Don’t be penalized for a mistake. Contact our offices today.

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