One of the most common offenses for first-time offenders in Iowa is driving under the influence of alcohol, also known as OWI or DUI. With over 11,000 DUI arrests in Iowa in 2011, it is easy to see that the offense is one of the most common causes for arrest in the state. Even for a first DUI charge, however, offenders face the possibility of serious consequences.
If a driver is suspected of driving under the influence, law enforcement can request a blood, breath, or urine sample in order to test their blood alcohol content (BAC). Iowa Code section 321J.2 states that if this level is found to be above.08, the driver can be arrested for OWI. An arrest will automatically suspend the alleged offender’s driving privileges through the DMV. This administrative suspension is handled separately from criminal charges, and the driver can request a hearing to grant temporary driving abilities while their case is being processed.
A DUI arrest carries a minimum 48 hour jail sentence for first time offenders, but this can be extended up to one year. A driver also faces a fine between $625 and $1,250, although other costs such as alcohol level assessment and rehabilitation programs are not covered under this fee, so actual out of pocket expenses could range much higher.
If a driver was found to have a BAC level above.1 or an accident was involved, the offender will be required to have an interlock ignition device installed in their vehicle. This device requires a clean breath sample in order to operate the vehicle, and the driver will responsible for the high costs of installing, removing, and maintaining the device.
An offender who meets certain criteria may be able to enroll in a deferred judgment program. These programs often include alcohol treatment or other courses, and upon completion the defendant can avoid jail time and a conviction on their criminal record. An attorney can often be beneficial in negotiation for these types of programs for an alleged offender.
In addition, any DUI conviction will remain on an offender’s record for life. This mark on an individual’s criminal history will increase the penalties for any subsequent offenses and may interfere with certain employment or educational opportunities. For certain careers, such as doctors, teachers, or law enforcement officers, a DUI could lead to disciplinary action.
Drunken driving convictions can lead to other consequences outside of the courtroom. A drunk driving offense can greatly increase an offender’s auto insurance rates, or they could be dropped from their current coverage altogether. Even a first time offender can face long-lasting consequences for a DUI offense that could affect their finances and opportunities for years to come.