Clear Lake Drunk Driving Lawyer

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Operating a motor vehicle in Iowa is a privilege enjoyed by many. However, with this privilege comes the responsibility to operate the vehicle in a safe and lawful manner. Minor traffic violations occur, which could result in you speaking with law enforcement. Unfortunately, some drivers who are in this situation may find that they have been out celebrating with friends or family or simply had one too many to drink. The officer may suspect this, administer a field sobriety test or a breathalyzer, and then place you under arrest for operating while intoxicated.

At McGuire Law, PLC, we understand that mistakes happen, and an OWI charge, commonly known as driving under the influence (DUI), can bring with it severe consequences. For this reason, our team compassionately and knowledgeably approaches the facts of your case, knowing that every case is unique. With more than four decades of experience, our team has the experience that your case deserves.


Iowa uses the charge of operating while intoxicated to encompass a variety of situations in which the driver of a vehicle does so under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. This impairs the driver’s ability to safely operate their vehicle as they would under their normal physical and mental capabilities. This puts other vehicles at risk, as well as pedestrians, themselves, and other passengers in their car.

According to the law, a person may not operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC) greater than .08%. A common misconception is that this amount is equal to two drinks, but other factors play a role in a person’s BAC, including their weight, height, sex, and more. If a person is under 21, they may not have a BAC greater than .02%.

In addition to the statutes regarding alcohol consumption, if a person is tested for drugs on suspicion of operating while intoxicated and the test reveals drugs in their system, they could be charged. A key component of this law is that some drugs may remain in a person’s system well after the effects of the drug have worn off; however, they could still be charged.

To test for suspicion of OWI, an officer will conduct a field sobriety test or administer a breathalyzer test. Iowa, unlike other states, will also take into consideration the arresting officer’s testimony regarding the conduct, demeanor, and appearance of intoxication. This can include any evidence discovered at the scene, smells of alcohol, or other visible signs that a person may be impaired.

Penalties for OWI in Iowa

The arrest alone for an OWI charge will carry immediate administrative penalties. This could mean a suspension or revocation of your license while you are awaiting trial. Convictions for OWI will carry criminal penalties as well. The penalties you could incur will be determined by any prior OWI convictions, the circumstances of your particular case, and if any other infractions occurred. Penalties for OWI include:

  • First offense. For a first offense, you could face up to one year in jail, up to $1,250 in fines, a license suspension or revocation for between six months and one year, or if you wish to continue driving on a limited basis, an interlocking device installed on your vehicle.
  • Second offense. For a second offense, the minimum fine is $1,875 you could face up to two years in jail, up to $6,250 in fines, a one to two-year license revocation, and up to one year of an interlocking device installed on your vehicle.
  • Third offense. For a third offense, the minimum fine is $3,125, you could face up to five years in jail, up to $9,375 in fines, a license revocation for six years, and a one-year interlocking device installation on your vehicle.

In addition to these penalties, those convicted of an OWI offense must complete a substance abuse evaluation and follow all recommended treatments. If the conviction is a second or subsequent offense, a judge may rule that the offender must complete an inpatient treatment program, but the time served in this program will reduce the time spent in jail. A judge may order the time frame for treatment or could determine that it should be left to the provider.

The law also requires OWI offenders to complete a substance abuse education program designed for drinking and driving violations. The fees associated with such penalties are paid by the offender.

After completing necessary treatment programs, offenders will be placed on probation which carries mandatory participation in posttreatment services or in a substance abuse prevention program.

Finally, if you are convicted of your second or subsequent offense, your vehicle may be impounded under court order for the duration of your license revocation or for 180 days, whichever time period is longer.

Common OWI Defense in Iowa

While the circumstances of each case are unique, there are several defenses that your attorney will explore, knowing where common evidentiary or procedural holes appear. Common defenses include:

  • Unjustified stops. Before an officer can stop your vehicle, they must have a valid reason. This includes speeding, broken tail lights, equipment issues, or other moving violations. The officer must be able to prove that stopping the vehicle was more than just a hunch.
  • Field sobriety tests. While these are often used as evidence in OWI cases, these tests do not always prove accurate. Some drivers who take prescription medications, experience vertigo, or are overly tired are unable to successfully complete the tests even though they are not impaired.
  • Breathalyzers. Breathalyzers are meant to give an estimate of a person’s BAC; however, these tests are often flawed and inaccurate. From officer error to miscalibration, these devices often fail, which can lead to the dismissal of charges.
  • Probable cause. Because an officer must have a valid reason for stopping your vehicle, they must also state that reason to you. In addition, if they decide to place you under arrest, they must inform you of the charges you are being arrested for. Additionally, at the time of arrest, you must be informed of your rights.

While these do not represent all the types of defenses that are used for OWI charges, they do represent a variety of pathways that your criminal defense attorney may use to help prove an acquittal or have your charges dismissed.

Clear Lake, Iowa OWI Attorney

Facing any type of criminal penalty can be overwhelming, but OWI charges can have a significant impact on your daily life. If you are convicted of OWI, you could lose your ability to work, find yourself in jail, or be penalized with large fines. At McGuire Law, PLC, we know that mistakes happen and your charges don’t always reflect the truth. With our skill and knowledge, your case will receive the attention it deserves. Contact our offices today and let our team help fight your OWI charges.

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