Iowa Drunk Driving Fines & Penalties

Learn about the penalties for an OWI / DUI conviction in Iowa.

What are the penalties for a OWI/DUI in Iowa?

1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense


48 hours up to 1 year

7 days up to 2

30 days up to 5 years

Fines and Penalties

$625 to $1,200

$1,875 to $6,250

$3,125 to $9,375

License Suspension

180 days

2 years

6 years

IID** Required

Yes, if BAC above .10



The court may also order one or more of the following

  • Substance Abuse Evaluation
  • Vehicle Impoundment or Immobilization
  • Program for the Supervision and Treatment of OWI Violators
  • Substance Abuse Treatment
  • Substance Abuse Reality Program
  • Attend Drinking Drivers Course
  • Community Service

Lookback Period: 12 years (Period of time that prior OWI/DUIs are relevant for sentencing. Also known as a “washout” period.)

**Ignition Interlock Device

How much do you have to drink (BAC*) for a OWI/DUI in Iowa?

Iowa uses the term OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) to refer to a drunk driving infraction.

Under 21


21 or older




** BAC = blood alcohol content

How many drinks does it take? Check the BAC chart.

You may want to try our BAC Calculator, however I wouldn't let any results encourage you to drink and drive.

What if you refuse to take a chemical test in Iowa?

Iowa has an implied consent law. That means that if you refuse to submit to a chemical test you will be subject to a fine and automatic license suspension. Learn more about Iowa’s implied consent law.


1st Offense

2nd Offense

3rd Offense

Refusal to take test

1 year license revocation

2 year license revocation

2 year license revocation

Disclaimer: We try to keep the information provided here up to date. However, laws often change, as do their interpretation and application. Different jurisdictions within a state may enforce the laws in different ways. For that reason, we recommended that you seek the advice of a local attorney familiar with DUI cases in your area.

Can you plead to a lesser offense than OWI/DUI in Iowa?

A defendant might receive a "wet reckless," or a conviction of reckless driving involving alcohol, as a result of a plea bargain in which a charge of drunk driving is reduced to a case of reckless driving. There is no statutory provision on whether a wet reckless plea bargain will be accepted in Iowa, but it's possible a lawyer may be able to create a plea bargain for you.

Drinking and Driving Laws in Iowa

It is illegal in the State of Iowa to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or above. The limit is lower for commercial drivers and drivers under the age of 21. In Iowa a DUI is a OWI, meaning "Operating While Intoxicated". The Iowa OWI law includes alcohol or drugs or both. While the OWI specify's a .08 BAC in the case of alcohol, it is illegal to drive with any amount of a controlled substance such as marijuana, cocaine, or meth present in the driver's blood.

How many drinks does it take to reach the legal limit in Iowa? It is difficult to calculate how many drinks it takes to reach the OWI limit. There are many factors that contribute to an individuals BAC level including weight, sex, body-fat percentage and the time interval between drinks. Studies have show that a persons BAC could go up as much as .05 percent for each drink taken. The fact is it takes very little alcohol to become legally drunk and each drink taken is a another step closer to becoming an "impaired" driver.

The best answer is not to drink and drive. The State of Iowa has strict laws for drunk driving, and when you drink and drive in Iowa, you risk your freedom, finances and your future.

The first OWI you receive in Iowa is punishable by up to 1 year in jail. You will spend a minimum of 48 hours in jail, however the court may impose a harsher penalty in some cases. You will also receive a fine between $500-$1,000 and you will be ordered to undergo a substance abuse evaluation at your own cost. Your drivers license will be revoked for 180 days (6 Months) and if your BAC was between .08-.10 you will be allowed to apply for a temporary restricted license to drive to and from work. You may also be ordered to install an ignition interlock device at your own expense.

The second time you are convicted of driving under the influence, you will be guilty of an aggravated misdemeanor and you will be sentenced to a minimum term of at least 7 days in jail up to 2 years. A driver convicted for the second time will not have the option for deferred sentencing or judgment. You will also be fined a minimum of $1,500-$5,000 and community service for a time determined by the court. You may also be ordered to participate in a substance abuse program of the courts choice at your own expense. Your drivers license will be suspended for a minimum 2-6 years with no option for a restricted license until the first year has been served and a ignition interlock device has been installed.

If you are convicted for a 3rd time of OWI in Iowa you are guilty of a Class "D" Felony and you shall be committed to the custody of the Iowa Department of Corrections for an indeterminate term not to exceed 5 years. The mandatory minimum term of imprisonment for your 3rd drunk driving conviction is 30 days in the county jail. You may also be ordered to community treatment at your own expense and you will be fined a minimum $2,500-$7,500. You must also undergo a substance abuse evaluation at your own expense and potentially be committed for treatment. Your vehicle may also be seized by the state to be impounded or immobilized. Your license will be revoked for a period of 6 years with no option for a restricted license until the first year has been served and a ignition interlock device has been installed.

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