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Des Moines OWI Defense Lawyer

Drunk driving, or Operating While Intoxicated (OWI), may be an extremely common charge in the the greater Des Moines area. However, that does not take away from how serious the charges are, and how much they can affect a person's life. An OWI (also known as DUI or DWI in other states) can have a significant effect on a person's finances, freedom and even their job.

OWI is like any other charge: Prosecutors must prove every element beyond a reasonable doubt. OWI or DUI tests are not above challenge, nor are the assertions of an arresting officer. Your attorney can help you fight the charges.

If you are charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or any other substances, a Des Moines drunk driving lawyer from McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. can fight for your rights. Our lawyers can push back against accusations of drunk driving, using our more than 40 years of combined experienced to advocate for you. We can seek the best possible results for you, challenging test results or the details of your arrest. We can also represent you in any legal hearings that may occur that are related to DUI charges. Call us today at (515) 279-9700 to set up a free consultation.

We represent those accused of drunk driving throughout Polk County and Dallas County, including in Des Moines, West Des Moines, Ankeny and Johnston, and anywhere in the state of Iowa.

Iowa OWI / DUI Information Center

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OWI Laws in Iowa

Drunk driving is commonly called DUI, or Driving Under the Influence, or DWI, or Driving While Intoxicated. In Iowa, the charge is called OWI, or Operating While Intoxicated. It is a crime to operate a motor vehicle while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage, or with a blood-alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or above, or with any amount of any controlled substance in the blood or urine.

Under the law, it is always illegal to drive while your BAC is above is .08. This is commonly thought to mean two drinks, but BAC can vary widely and depends on a person's sex, height, weight and many other factors. A person under 21 may face OWI charges if they have a blood-alcohol content of .02 or more.

However, you can also be charged if your BAC is below .08, yet police still say you were under the influence while driving. For instance, even if your test result returns a .07 BAC, the police officer can still say you were slurring your words and seemed disoriented, which may be evidence against you.

The law is particularly hard on those charged with OWI and drugs. If a test shows any drugs in your system, you may face OWI charges, despite the fact that some substances stay in a person's system for weeks, long after any effect can be felt.

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Punishment for Des Moines Drunk Driving Charges

A first OWI is a serious misdemeanor. If convicted, you will face at least 48 hours in jail and a fine of at least $625 if there is not bodily injury or property damage involved and $1,250 if there was. The court may order community service in lieu of a fine.

Your driver's license will also be revoked for at least 180 days and up to a year. If your BAC test came in under .15, you may be eligible for a temporary restricted license. If above .15, you must wait at least 30 days. If there was an accident involved with your arrest or your BAC was above .10, you will be required to install an ignition interlock device on your car., but still may get a temporary license after 30 days. The device will test your breath and not allow you to start the car until you submit a passing test.

A second OWI is an aggravated misdemeanor. If convicted, you will face at least seven days in jail and a find of at least $1,875, and up to $6,250. You license will be revoked for a year, you will not be eligible for a temporary restricted license for 45 days, and you must have an ignition interlock device installed for a year after your license is restored.

A third offense or any subsequent OWI is a Class D felony, with a minimum 30-day sentence and possibility of up to five years in prison. The fine is at least $3,125, up to $9,375. Your license will be revoked for six years.

Any OWI offense will also involve an evaluation for substance abuse and a required course, which you must pay for.

If there is any personal injury involved in the accident, you will have an additional year added onto any revocation. If there is a death, the revocation will be for six years, in addition to the serious penalties  that come with homicide by vehicle charges, a Class B felony.

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OWI Deferral with Polk County Education Program

If you are facing your first OWI charge, your BAC was below .15 and there was no accident connected to your arrest that caused another person's bodily injury, you may be eligible for a deferred judgment. A deferred judgment means that, if you fulfill the requirements of the court, the charges are dismissed and you do not have a conviction on your record.

For deferred judgment, you will be required to take a course on drinking and driving, and may be required to pay fines and meet other conditions. If you fail to meet these conditions, you will be convicted.

If you received deferred judgment, it will be counted as a conviction for any subsequent OWI charges.

Deferred judgment is at the discretion of the court. Your Des Moines criminal defense attorney can argue why you deserve deferred judgment.

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OWI / DUI Test Refusal in Iowa

Police have a few ways to test for alcohol in the body, including breath, urine and blood. Breath is by far the most common, as police carry portable devices to test the breath of drivers. Police may also conduct field sobriety tests.

It is your constitutional right to refuse a DUI test. By doing so, you are denying the prosecution critical evidence in the case against yourself. The prosecution must prove all charges against you beyond reasonable doubt. Without evidence, they may not be able to secure a conviction.

However, denying the tests comes at a cost. Iowa has "implied consent," meaning you consent to a DUI test when you get your license. Refusal means civil penalties. Your license will be revoked administratively, for one year for a first offense and for two years for a subsequent offense.

Your license is revoked for only 180 days if you fail a test for a first offense, and you can immediately apply for a temporary restricted license if your BAC is under .15. If you refuse, you cannot apply for a temporary license for 90 days.

You may have a license suspension hearing where your OWI / DUI defense lawyer may challenge the suspension. You must act soon to do so, however. The hearing must be requested within 10 days of the test refusal or failure. Call McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. today so we can immediately start on your case.

Information on OWI Prosecutions in Polk County, Iowa

OWI Unit at the Polk County Attorney's Office - This article on the Polk County Attorney website written by John P. Sarcone discusses the OWI unit. The OWI unit in the Polk County Attorney’s office is a subdivision of the Intake and Screening Bureau. It include three full-time Assistant County Attorneys, and two full-time support staff members. The OWI Unit also receives support from Investigators with the Investigation Bureau of the Polk County Attorney’s Office. The OWI Unit screens the police reports and other information related to the arrest before deciding whether to formally file criminal charges for OWI. The attorneys in the OWI Unit also appear in court until the cases are resolved. 

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McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. | DUI Attorneys in Des Moines IA

You do not have to settle for the penalties if you are charged with Operating While Intoxicated. A Des Moines drunk driving lawyer from McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. can fight for your rights. We can challenge the prosecution's evidence and seek the best possible result for you.

Call us today at (515) 279-9700 for a free consultation to discuss your OWI case or related charges Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Possession of Controlled Substances, Driving While License is Barred/Suspended, Child Endangerment, Eluding, and traffic citations that accompany the arrest in the greater Des Moines-Newton-Pella area.

Tell Us About Your Case

How would you like to be contacted?

This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.

* All fields are required.

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