OWI (Operating While Intoxicated)

Experienced Attorney in Mason City, Iowa

Depending on the state, different terms are used to mean some form of impaired driving: DUI, DWI, DWUI, DWAI, OMVI, and OUI are among the legal terms in various jurisdictions that are accompanied by varying consequences. 

While DUI is what’s heard most on cop shows and other media, the legal term in Iowa is OWI (Operating While Intoxicated). OWI is a broad term to include alcohol, prescription drugs, illicit drugs, and other substances. 

What Is OWI?

Under Iowa law (321J.2), a person commits OWI if they operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, according to measurements in blood, breath, or urine. The operator is considered intoxicated if their blood alcohol content (BAC) is .08 or more. Any amount of controlled substance present in a person can also lead to OWI charges. 

There are specific circumstances in which a lower BAC can lead to charges. Commercial vehicle operators must have a BAC of .04 to drive legally. The BAC is lowered to .02 for drivers under the age of 21. 

Factors other than test results can also lead to OWI convictions. A judge or jury can consider evidence of reduced mental ability, impaired judgment, enhanced emotions, and loss of bodily control. 

Implied Consent in Iowa

Anyone driving on Iowa’s roads has given implied consent to an OWI test if there are reasonable grounds to believe the person was OWI. The tests withdraw a specimen of blood, breath, or urine. There are also chemical tests to determine the alcohol concentration or presence of a controlled substance. 

These tests can be conducted under the following circumstances:

  • Person has been arrested for violating 321J.2
  • Person was involved in a motor vehicle accident or collision that resulted in injury or death
  • Person refused to take the preliminary breath screening test
  • Person is underage and a preliminary breath screening test shows an alcohol concentration between .02 and .08. 
  • Preliminary breath screening test showed an alcohol level below .08 but the peace officer has reason to believe the operator is under the influence of a controlled substance other than alcohol or a drug/alcohol combination 

Consequences of Refusing an OWI Test

Anyone refusing to submit to the chemical test will face consequences. They will lose their driver’s license for one year if they have not had a previous revocation, two years if they have. They cannot be eligible for a temporary restricted license in Mason City for a minimum of 90 days. An ignition interlock device must be installed on any vehicle operated on a restricted license. 

What Are the Possible Penalties of OWI?

OWI penalties and sentences depend on the age of the driver, the BAC, and the number of previous OWI offenses. All offenders must complete a substance abuse evaluation. They must complete a course for drinking drivers and, if appropriate, a reality education substance abuse program. Most offenders are also required to complete a period of probation. 

Prison and jail time consequences are as follows: 

  • First Offense: The first offense is generally classified as a serious misdemeanor. Jail sentences can range from 48 hours to one year. The potential fine is up to $1,250. The driver’s license is revoked from 180 days to one year. 
  • Second Offense: A second offense is an aggravated misdemeanor. The potential jail sentence is seven days to two years. A fine will be imposed between $1,875 and $6,250. The driver’s license is revoked for one year. 
  • Third or More Offenses: Once you have a third offense, you will be charged with a Class D felony. There is a mandatory minimum of 30 days in prison, but you could be sentenced to up to five years. The fine assessed can range from $3,125 to $9,375. The driver’s license is revoked for six years. 

The defendant’s vehicle can be impounded if they are convicted of a second or subsequent offense. The court can also impound the vehicle if they operate the vehicle under a suspended or revoked license. 

Ignition interlock devices are required for first-time offenders seeking a temporary license if their BAC is above .10. Any offender with previous OWI offenses on their record must have the device installed no matter their BAC for at least one year. 

Extensive OWI Defense Experience in Mason City

When you are arrested on suspicion of OWI, your first call should be to a seasoned lawyer with deep knowledge of Iowa’s OWI laws and a rich background in aggressively advocating for their clients throughout the judicial process. 

At McGuire Law, PLC, the lead attorney has fought for his client’s rights for 40 years. Contact him today to learn how he can help your case. 

Your first consultation is free. Call (641) 812-2041 or submit our online form to schedule. 

  • “James spent two years working pro bono. When I was eighteen, he got me enough to get my bills paid, a car, and my first place to live, along with baby items. He really cares and won't settle for anything less than people being treated right.” - Mollie M.
  • “He handled my daughter's case and did an amazing job. Really listened to her and walked her through her legal issues. Thanks Jim and you guys are great.” - Sylvia S.
  • “I am very pleased with the representation I received from McGuire Law. They are the only lawyer I will use and definitely recommend them to anyone looking for the best representation in the area. Thank you to everyone at McGuire Law!” - Mike H.

Why Choose McGuire Law

  • Receive a Free Consultation to Review Your Legal Options
  • There Are No Upfront Costs or Charges Unless We Win Your Case
  • We've Recovered Millions of Dollars for Clients Throughout Iowa
  • Our Firm Is Backed by 40+ Years of Legal Experience

Contact us for a
Free consultation

  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.