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Implied Consent Laws

Under Iowa’s OWI law, it is unlawful to operate a motor vehicle in Iowa under the following circumstances:

  • While having an alcohol concentration of .08 or more;
  • While under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or other drug or a combination of such substances; or
  • While having any amount of a controlled substance in one’s body.

Iowa’s implied consent law applies to anyone who operates a motor vehicle in the State of Iowa. Implied consent laws mean that a person essentially agrees to have a blood, breath and/or urine test performed to determine alcohol level or presence of drugs, whenever the law enforcement officer has reasonable grounds to believe the person is operating under the influence. If a person then withdraws that consent by refusing to consent to the lawfully requested test, then certain administrative and criminal consequences might apply. When an officer invokes Iowa’s implied-consent procedure, the officer will ask the individual to submit to a chemical test of the breath, blood or urine. The person ultimately faces an adverse consequence, whether in the form of a criminal penalty or a civil penalty.

If a person then withdraws that consent by refusing to consent to the lawfully requested test, then certain administrative and criminal consequences might apply. When an officer invokes Iowa’s implied-consent procedure, the officer will ask the individual to submit to a chemical test of the breath, blood or urine. The person ultimately faces an adverse consequence, whether in the form of a criminal penalty or a civil penalty. See Iowa Code §§ 321J.2(2)–(7), .9(1)–(2).

If you were arrested for OWI in Des Moines, Iowa, or Polk County, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. If you were asked to submit to a breath test, blood test or urine test, then your defense will involve Iowa’s implied consent laws.

Call (515) 279-9700 to speak with an experienced OWI defense attorney about your case.


Should you take the breath test or refuse to submit?

When you make a choice between taking the breath test after a first DUI arrest, you should consider the following:

  • A first DUI offense is punishable by a minimum period of imprisonment for forty-eight hours with a total period of incarceration not to exceed one year or a deferred judgment with probation. Id. § 321J.2(3).
  • A first refusal to submit to a chemical test results in the automatic revocation of one’s license for a period of a year with eligibility to apply for a temporary restricted license after ninety days. Id. §§ 321J.9(1)(a).

After a first OWI arrest, a person is often asked by the arresting officer to choose between these two alternatives. To make the right decision, an individual suspected of OWI must quickly consider not only what the State can prove and what the likely penalty will be, but also what the future consequences might be for his or her occupation, family, and personal well-being.

The decision made after the OWI arrest is final. The decision will determine both the range of criminal penalties the individual will face and the charge that will appear on his or her permanent criminal record if a conviction occurs. In many respects, the decision to submit or refuse to submit to a chemical test resembles the decision to plead to criminal charges.


Additional Recourses

Implied Consent Laws in Iowa – Visit the website of the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) to learn more about Iowa’s implied consent law. Find out more about the administrative and court ordered suspensions and revocations.

Office of Driver Services
Iowa Department of Transportation 
P.O. Box 9204
Des Moines, Iowa 50306-9204
 
Telephone: 515-244-9124 or 515-244-8725
Fax: 515-239-1837
E-mail: ods@dot.iowa.gov