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Commercial Drivers and OWI

Drivers of traditional passenger vehicles certainly face some very strong consequences if they are convicted of operating while intoxicated (OWI) in Iowa, but at least some of these alleged offenders can be eligible for temporary restricted licenses that allow them to maintain their employment. Commercial drivers facing OWI charges are not afforded this luxury.

The men and women who operate tractor-trailers, 18-wheelers, and other commercial vehicles clearly rely on their commercial driver’s licenses (CDLs) to provide for their families. Any arrest for OWI—even if the alleged drunk driving occurs in a noncommercial vehicle—can lead to a truck driver losing his or her CDL for multiple years or possibly even life.

Des Moines Commercial OWI Lawyer

If you are a CDL holder who was recently arrested for OWI in Iowa, it is in your best interest to make sure that you have extremely skilled legal counsel. McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. has more than four decades of experience fighting to protect the rights of clients all over the Hawkeye State.

Our Iowa commercial OWI attorneys serve numerous communities in the greater Des Moines area, including Johnston, Altoona, West Des Moines, Ankeny, and Urbandale. You can have our firm provide a complete evaluation of your case by calling (515) 279-9700 right now to schedule a free, confidential consultation.


Iowa Commercial Driver OWI Information Center


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West Des Moines Commercial OWI Charges

Under Iowa law, an alleged offender can be charged with OWI for operating any motor vehicle while he or she is under the influence of alcohol or any drug. A person can be arrested for OWI if he or she operates a commercial vehicle either:

  • While under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or other drug or a combination of such substances;
  • While having an alcohol concentration of 0.04 or more; or
  • While any amount of a controlled substance is present in the person, as measured in the person’s blood or urine.

The alcohol concentration limit is 0.08 when an alleged offender is operating a noncommercial vehicle, but even arrests in traditional passenger vehicles can negatively impact the status of a commercial driver’s CDL. Under the CDL standards and requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), any person who has CDL and is convicted of any traffic violation other than a parking violation must notify his or her employer of such conviction within 30 days.


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Criminal Penalties for Commercial Driver OWI in Des Moines

A commercial driver in Iowa can face the same criminal consequences for OWI as noncommercial drivers. Prosecutors will frequently pursue maximum sentences because alleged offenders charged with allegedly driving drunk while behind the wheels of commercial vehicles potentially placed more people at risk of much more devastating crashes than those who were allegedly under the influence while operating standard automobiles.

If a commercial driver is convicted of OWI in Iowa, the severity of his or her possible sentence depends on whether or not he or she has any previous convictions for this offense:

  • First Offense — Serious misdemeanor punishable by up to one year imprisonment in the county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,200;
  • Second Offense — Aggravated misdemeanor punishable by up to two year imprisonment in the county jail or community-based correctional facility and/or a fine of up to $6,250;
  • Third or Subsequent Offense — Class D felony punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $9,375.

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Iowa Administrative Penalties for Commercial OWI

Heavy fines and possible time in jail or prison are understandable concerns for any person facing OWI charges, but one of the much larger long-term concerns for commercial drivers is the impact that a conviction will have on their CDLs. The duration of any possible CDL revocation depends on certain factors.

A commercial driver will be disqualified from operating a commercial vehicle for one year for any first OWI conviction involving:

  • Being under the influence of alcohol;
  • Being under the influence of a controlled substance;
  • Having an alcohol concentration of 0.04;
  • Refusal to submit to chemical testing.

A driver will have his or her CDL revoked for three years if he or she was operating a commercial motor vehicle transporting hazardous materials requiring placarding.

If an alleged offender has been previously convicted of OWI while operating a commercial vehicle, then any subsequent offense will result in a lifetime disqualification. In certain cases, drivers may be eligible for reinstatement after 10 years.


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Des Moines Commercial Driver OWI Resources

Commercial Driver’s License Manual – Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) — This is a PDF version of the Iowa DOT’s CDL Driver’s Manual. Among the types of information you can find through this link, there is a section on CDL disqualifications, a blood alcohol content (BAC) chart, and more on the effects of increasing BAC.

Commercial Driver’s License Program | FMCSA — FMCSA is the federal agency responsible for regulating the trucking industry, and this page provides an overview of the national standards for obtaining a CDL. Information on this website includes classes of license and Commercial Learner’s Permits (CLPs), the different endorsements and restrictions, and various state and local government resources.


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Find a Commercial OWI Lawyer in West Des Moines

Are you a commercial driver facing OWI charges in Iowa? You should immediately seek the help of a knowledgeable Des Moines criminal defense attorney.

Our firm handles both alcohol and drug-related OWI case for clients throughout Madison County, Guthrie County, Polk County, Dallas County, and Warren County. We can review your case and help you understand your legal options as soon as you call (515) 279-9700 to take advantage of a free initial consultation.