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OWI with Serious Injury

Operating a vehicle while intoxicated is already a serious crime, but once someone is injured seriously because of it the penalties are increased even further. It could lead to a year-long license revocation as well as felony-level penalties including expensive fines, restitution and even time spent behind bars. If a person died as a result, you could be charged with an even higher-class felony of vehicular manslaughter.

You should always take OWI charges seriously, especially when it involves serious injury. That is why we highly recommend you have legal counsel to fight these OWI charges. A skilled attorney can collect evidence, file motions and do whatever’s possible to fight for your rights in court. Don’t wait another moment to prepare for your trial by contacting a skilled defense lawyer today for your OWI case.

Lawyer for OWI with Serious Injury in West Des Moines, IA

The harsh penalties of OWI are enough for someone to go into a panic after being arrested. A conviction could lead to fines, restitution, alcohol monitoring devices, OWI classes, community service and even time in jail or prison. Not only this, but if someone received a serious injury as a result your penalties could be enhanced to a higher offense level.

If you or someone you know has been arrested for OWI with serious injury, it’s our advice you call McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C.. We have been representing people accused of OWI for years with success. With our experience, skills and resources our attorneys can effectively defend you. Call (515) 279-9700 now to set up your first consultation free.

Overview of OWI with Serious Injury  


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Iowa’s Laws on Operating a Vehicle While Intoxicated

It’s a well-known fact that driving drunk in any U.S. state is illegal. Iowa follows this rule and states you’re guilty of operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) if you do the following: 

  • Operated a motor vehicle while:
    • Impaired by an alcoholic beverage, drug or combination of the two;
    • Having a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher; or
    • Having any amount of a controlled substance presence in your system as proven by blood or urine analysis by lab testing 

You’re not required to have a certain BAC to be charged with OWI. An officer can arrest you if they have enough probable cause you’re under the influence. For instance, you might pass a breathalyzer test with flying colors but still be arrested because you exhibited slurred speech, dizziness, disorientation and other signs of intoxication.

Because law enforcement can utilize probable cause to arrest you, it’s important you don’t submit to chemical testing without some thought. It could be the best decision to refuse a breathalyzer, blood or urine test since it will provide the prosecution with scientific evidence of your intoxication. In the end, it may be the right decision to refuse and spend some time in jail, so the district attorney has little evidence to use against you at trial.


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What Happens When Serious Injury is Involved?

The statutory penalties are drastically enhanced if serious injury was involved while you OWI. What would have been charged as a serious misdemeanor, is now ramped up to a class “D” felony according to the Iowa Code Section 707.6A. The penalties for a class “D” felony include the following:

  • A fine of at least $750, but can be up to $7,500; and
  • A maximum prison sentence of up to 5 years

As a result of conviction, your license will be revoked by the Department of Public Safety (DPS) for up to six years. The judge may also order you to pay restitution towards the victim and their families. These payments can be taxing on your finances and lead you into debt.

Additionally, an OWI with serious injury isn’t eligible for deferred judgement ordered by the judge. Deferred judgement is a type of probation that allows the judge to withhold your guilt for a period. If you complete the probationary terms, then the judge will dismiss the case and you won’t have a conviction on your record. Unfortunately, those OWI offenders whose case involved serious injury will be barred from deferred judgement.

The term “serious injury” is defined under the Iowa Code Section 702.18. It can be described as any of the following:

  • A disabling mental illness;
  • Any injury on a child that requires surgery or general anesthesia; or
  • A bodily injury that fits the following categories:
    • Creates a substantial risk of death;
    • Causes serious permanent disfigurement; or
    • Causes protracted loss or impairment of a bodily member or organ

The term serious injury has a broad definition. For example, a person be seriously injured if they were burned severely on their face or were required to endure an amputation. However, a broken leg may not fit the definition of serious injury under the Iowa Code.


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Vehicular Manslaughter in Iowa

When someone has died as a result of OWI, you should expect life-altering penalties. Committing vehicular manslaughter is a class “B” felony even if you had no intent to harm anyone. The crime is punishable by up to 25 years in prison and you will be barred from bail before sentencing or while case is pending on appeal. Not only this, but the court is required to impose at least $150,000 restitution towards the victim’s family. 

Vehicular manslaughter will also result in a license revocation of up to six years. You will be ineligible to apply for a hardship license until you’ve completed two years of your revocation. The judge may court order you to enroll in rehabilitation services as well as a reality education substance abuse program depending on the circumstances of the case.


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Additional Resources 

OWI Laws in Iowa – Visit the official website for the Iowa Code to learn more about their statutes related to traffic offenses and OWI. Access the site to learn the elements of OWI, BAC information, deferred judgements and other important information. 

MADD | Iowa Chapter – Visit the official website for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to learn more about countermeasures to prevent OWI instances in Iowa. Access the site to find more information on sobriety checkpoints, new bills for OWI and federal legislation related to driving under the influence. 


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West Des Moines Attorney for OWI with Serious Injury in Iowa

Have you been charged with OWI with serious injury or even vehicular manslaughter? If so, we highly advise you to get in contact with the experienced attorneys at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C.. Our firm has been defending clients from OWI charges for years and have what it takes to defend any case. 

Call us now at (515) 279-9700 to set up your first consultation absolutely free. We accept clients throughout the greater Polk County and Dallas County area including Ankeny, Altoona, Johnston, Polk City, Pleasant Hill, Adel, Waukee, Perry and De Soto.