Second OWI Offense in Iowa

The administrative and criminal penalties for a second OWI in Iowa.

Driving under the influence (DUI) is normally called “operating while intoxicated” (OWI) in Iowa. Iowa’s OWI laws prohibit driving a motor vehicle:

  • with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08% or more
  • while under the influence of drugs, alcohol, or a combination of the two, or
  • while any amount of a controlled substance is in your blood or urine.

After an OWI arrest, the offender normally faces administrative (license related) and criminal penalties.

Administrative Penalties

License revocation. The Iowa Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will typically revoke the license of any driver who’s arrested for OWI and fails or refuses to take a chemical test. A chemical test is considered failed if the results indicate the presence of a controlled substance or another drug, a BAC of at least .08%, or a combination of alcohol and drugs.

If a driver fails a test and has had a previous OWI related license revocation, the DMV will revoke the offender’s license for one year. The revocation is for two years if the driver:

Administrative license revocations go into effect ten days after the DMV mails notice to the offender.

Temporary restricted licenses and ignition interlock devices. A person whose license has been revoked can apply for a temporary restricted license. Before a temporary restricted license will be issued, the person must pay a $200 civil penalty to the DMV and install an ignition interlock device (IID) in all vehicles owned or operated by the applicant.

License reinstatement. Generally, after a second revocation for failure or refusal of a chemical test, the DMV won’t reinstate the person’s license until the person:

  • pays the $200 civil penalty
  • provides proof of completion of a drinking drivers course, substance abuse evaluation, and treatment or rehabilitation services, and
  • provides proof of installation of an IID in the offender’s vehicle.

After a second revocation, the IID must be installed for a period of one year from the date of reinstatement. However, the one-year period will be reduced by any period of time that the offender held a temporary restricted license. In other words, if the license revocation was for one year and the offender held a temporary restrictive permit for one year, installation of an IID isn’t required after reinstatement.

Criminal Penalties

Jail and community service. A person convicted of second OWI offense is guilty of an aggravated misdemeanor. The maximum sentence is up to two years in jail, but a minimum of seven days must be served. The minimum sentence must be served on consecutive days unless the court finds that:

  • serving seven days consecutively would be an undue hardship on the defendant, and
  • sufficient jail space isn’t available and isn’t expected to become available within four months after sentencing.

If the minimum sentence isn’t served consecutively, the defendant must serve the seven days in segments of at least 48 hours and complete community service work as ordered by the judge.

Fines and fees. The fine for a second OWI is $1,875 to $6,250, plus surcharges and fees.

License suspension. Generally, license revocations are imposed by the DMV when an OWI offender is in violation of the implied consent law. However, if the defendant’s license wasn’t administratively revoked as discussed above, the judge will order the DMV to revoke the defendant’s license upon a second OWI conviction. The revocation is for one year if the defendant submitted to chemical testing and has a previous OWI conviction or revocation. And the revocation is for two years if the defendant refused to take a chemical test and has a previous OWI conviction or revocation.

If the defendant seeks a temporary restricted license, an IID must be installed in all vehicles owned or operated by the defendant.

Vehicle impoundment. For a second or subsequent conviction for OWI, the court can order the vehicle used to commit the offense be impounded or immobilized. The period of impoundment or immobilization is for the period the offender’s license is revoked or 180 days, whichever period is longer.

Substance abuse evaluation and treatment. All OWI offenders must complete a substance abuse evaluation and the recommended treatment program. Upon a second or subsequent OWI conviction, the court can commit the defendant to an inpatient treatment program. The defendant will receive jail-time credit for any time spent in inpatient treatment. The court can set the length of time that treatment is required or leave it up to the inpatient treatment facility.

Iowa’s OWI laws also require offenders to complete a course for drinking drivers, and in some cases, a reality education substance abuse prevention program.

Probation. After completing the required treatment program, the OWI offender is generally placed on probation for six months. As a condition of probation, the offender is required to complete a substance abuse prevention program or engage in posttreatment services. Failure to complete such a program will result in the defendant being placed on probation for one year, confined in jail for a minimum of 20 days, and/or community service work.

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