Iowa's Drugged Driving Law

Learn about the laws and penalties for driving under the influence of drugs (DUID) in Iowa.

Iowa’s drugged driving law is located at Iowa Code Section 321J.2. It states that: “A person commits the offense of operating while intoxicated if the person operates a motor vehicle in this state while any amount of a controlled substance is present in the person, as measured in the person's blood or urine.”

Iowa has what is known as a per se (also known as a “zero tolerance”) prohibition against drugged driving. That means that a driver may be arrested if the police officer has a reasonable suspicion that any prohibited drug (even if it’s just a trace) is in the driver's body while the driver is in control of the vehicle. Actual evidence of impaired driving is not essential as long as the police officer has a reasonable belief that the driver is on something while behind the wheel.

What drugs are prohibited?

Iowa’s drugged driving law is directed at the prohibition of “a controlled substance.” A listing of controlled substances regulated by federal law are found at the Drug Enforcement Administration website.

What happens if a driver is convicted of drug impaired driving in Iowa?

A driver arrested for drugged driving in Iowa will be charged with driving under the influence and subject to DUI penalties. A conviction for drugged driving will be considered as a prior offense for purposes of calculating punishment regardless of whether a subsequent offense is due to alcohol or drugs. Read more about Iowa’s DUI laws.

Do Iowa drivers have to submit to drug testing?

Yes, there is an implied consent rule for blood and urine testing. The refusal to take the test can be admitted into evidence against the driver.

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