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OWI Penalties

In order to protect the public, the State of Iowa has implemented harsh penalties for anyone operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI), also known as driving under the influence (DUI). An OWI arrest will typically lead to automatic administrative and license-related penalties. If the individual is convicted of OWI in court, then they will also be subject to criminal penalties including mandatory time in jail and expensive out-of-pocket fines.

Despite it being a non-violent crime, many people face life-altering consequences after an OWI conviction. Individuals with a conviction on their record historically have issues finding employment, housing, and applying for loans all because of one mistake they made years ago. That is why it’s incredibly important you seek legal representation if you’ve been arrested for a first, second, or subsequent OWI offense. A skilled and experienced Iowa OWI defense attorney can significantly increase your chances of receiving reduced or dismissed charges. Speak to a qualified Des Moines OWI lawyer today by calling McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C..

Des Moines OWI Lawyers

It’s important to remember an arrest for OWI does not automatically constitute a conviction. The prosecutor is obligated to prove every element beyond a reasonable doubt unless you enter a plea of guilty. An experienced Iowa DUI defense lawyer like the skilled legal team at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. can contest the charges and present evidence to support these claims. An knowledgeable OWI attorney can challenge scientific assertions, suppress incriminatory evidence, and do whatever necessary to fight for reduced or dismissed charges.

Find that attorney today with McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C.. Our lawyers have 40 years of combined experience we can utilize for your case. Schedule your first consultation today by calling our office at (515) 279-9700 or simply submitting an online contact form. McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. has offices in West Des Moines but we accept clients throughout every part of Dallas County and Polk County, Iowa as well.


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Iowa First Offense OWI

Similar to all other States, in Iowa it is illegal to drive impaired by either alcoholic beverages or any other controlled substance. Iowa Code Section 321J.2 states it is illegal to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher. Violation of this law could lead to a criminal OWI charge, which is classified as a serious misdemeanor. If an individual is convicted of a first-time OWI offense, then they could be subject to the following penalties:

  • Minimum of 48 hours and a maximum of one year in jail
  • A possible fine of up to $1,250
  • In lieu of a fine, the defendant may be court ordered to perform community service
  • Loss of driver’s license for a minimum of 180 days and a maximum of 12 months
  • Submit to a substance abuse evaluation and take a drunk driving course

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Deferred Judgement for First Time OWI Offenders

First-time OWI offenders may be eligible for deferred judgement, which is where the judge does not enter a final conviction. Instead, they will court order the defendant to follow certain terms and conditions set forth by the court. The defendant must abide by conditions of probation, and any failure to do so could result in revocation. If the defendant successfully fulfills the terms and conditions of their deferred judgement, then they will be discharged without entry of judgment.

Unfortunately, the court cannot grant a deferred judgement or sentence if the defendant has been previously convicted of OWI or if their driving record indicates one of the following:

  • Their license was revoked for an OWI-related reason within the last 12 years as provided in Iowa Code Section 321.12(4)
  • The defendant has had their judgement or sentence deferred in the past
  • The defendant’s blood alcohol concentration surpassed 0.15
  • The OWI was the direct cause of another person’s bodily injury
  • The defendant refused a chemical test including a breathalyzer, urinalysis, or blood analysis

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Iowa OWI Second Offense

OWI charges should always be taken seriously, but if it’s a person’s second or subsequent offense then there’s no time to waste. The penalties for a second or subsequent OWI offense are nothing to scoff at as offenders often face years in incarceration and incredibly expensive conviction fines. The sentencing for a second OWI offense in Iowa can be found under Section 321J.2(4) of the Iowa Code, which states:

  • A second OWI offense is an aggravated misdemeanor punishable by all the following:
    • A minimum of seven days and a maximum of two years in jail
    • Assessment of a minimum fine of 1,875 dollars and a maximum fine of 6,250
    • If the defendant failed a chemical test, their license will be revoked for one year
    • If the defendant refused a chemical test, their license will be revoked for two years in total
    • Submit to a substance abuse evaluation and take a drunk driving course

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Iowa OWI Third Offense

Individuals facing a third OWI charge could be subject to felony-level penalties. Iowa Code Section 321J.2(5) classifies a third OWI offense as a class D felony upon conviction, and any subsequent OWI after that will be subject to the same classification. The consequences for a third OWI in Iowa include the following:

  • Mandatory minimum term of 30 days and a maximum of 5 years
  • Minimum fine of $3,175 and a maximum fine of $9,375
  • Revocation of the individual’s driver’s license for six years
  • Submit to a substance abuse evaluation and take a drunk driving course
  • Classification as a habitual offender pursuant to section 902.8 and 902.9 of the Iowa Code if the person qualifies as a habitual offender under section 902.8

Convicted individuals who have been classified as habitual offenders will not be eligible for parole until they have served at least three years of confinement in jail or prison.


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Additional Resources

OWI Laws | Iowa Code – Visit the official website for the Iowa Code to learn more about the penalties surrounding OWI offenses. Access the site to learn the consequences for committing OWI a first, second, third or subsequent time, as well as the aggravating factors that could lead to an enhanced sentence.

Suspensions & Revocations after OWI | Iowa DOT – Visit the official website for Iowa’s Department of Transportation to learn more about the suspension and revocation terms for individuals charged with OWI. Access the site to learn the revocation or suspension period for individuals convicted of OWI, Iowa’s laws regarding ignition interlock devices, and the State laws for vehicle impoundment or immobilization after an OWI conviction.


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OWI Defense Lawyers in Des Moines, IA | Iowa OWI Penalties

If you or someone you know has been arrested for OWI or any other criminal offense, contact McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C.. Our criminal defense team have decades of collective experience that may be advantageous for your case. We understand how serious OWI charges can be for a person’s reputation, standing in the community, and can permanently affect a person’s trajectory of life. That is why our defense lawyers will work tirelessly on your case to secure the best possible result for your case.

Call our office today at (515) 279-9700 or simply submit an online contact form to schedule your first consultation. McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. is located in West Des Moines, but we accept clients in every part of Dallas County and Polk County, Iowa.


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