Work Permits and OWIs

posted by Matthew Lindholm on Wednesday, January 27, 2016


An arrest and conviction for Operating While Intoixcated (OWI) in Iowa is a difficult, emotional, and expensive roller coaster.  This is especially true given the lack of reliable public transportation within the State and the need to drive in order to make a living.  If I had a nickel for everytime I  heard a client say, "how do they expect you to get to work and feed a family" after I explain to him/her the license suspensions and work permit eligibility following their arrest for OWI, I would be long retired.  Unfortunately, there are to many different driving scenarios to list so this blog will only focus on the work permit requirements following an OWI.

At the outset, it is important to note that a person's eligibility for a work permit following an OWI is driven by Iowa Code Section 321J.20, 321J.9, and 321J.12.  What follows below is a summary of when and how those code sections authorize a person to get a work permit following an OWI.  It is important to keep in mind though that OWI's have a twelve (12) year life span for license suspension purposes which means that any offense that is more than twelve (12) years old cannot be used.  It is also important to note that deferred judgments and zero tolerance violations count as prior offenses.

Generally speaking, the lenth of suspension and eligibility for a work permit is driven by the person's decision to consent to or refuse chemical testing (i.e. blood, breath, or urine) at the police station.  Drivers license suspensions and work permit eligibility are not tied to a persons' decision to submit to field sobriety testing or the preliminary breath test (i.e. the one on the side of the road).  Additionally, the police are not required to advise a person as to the eligibility requirements of a work permit when asking a person to consent or refuse a blood, breath, or urine test at the station.  Therefore, it is importatnt to understand how work permit elgibility plays a role in a person's decision to consent or refuse chemcial testing at the police station.

OWI First Offense
On a first offense OWI, a person who consents to a blood, breath, or urine test and fails it, would be facing a six (6) month driver's license suspension and a person who refuses a breath or urine test, would be facing a one (1) year suspension.  If the person consents to a breath or blood test and the alcohol concentration is greater than .150 or they were in an accident resulting in personal injury or property damage, they will not be eligible for a work permit for thirty (30) days.  If the persons consents to a breath or blood test and the results are .150 and under and no accident occurred resulting in personal injury or property damage, they will be eligible to get a work permit immediately.  If the person refused the breath or urine test, they would not be eligible for a work permit for ninety (90) days.

OWI Second Offenses
With a second offense OWI, the license suspension periods double but the eligibility requirements for a work permit only slightly change.  Thus, a person who consents to a breath, blood, or urine test and fails it, would be facting a one (1) year suspension and a person who refuses a breath or urine test would be facing a two (2) year suspension.  A person consenting and failing would have forty-five (45) days they could not drive before being eligible for a work permit and a person refusing would have ninety (90) days they could not drive before being eligible for a work permit.

OWI Third Offenses
The license suspensions and work permit ineligibility periods following a failed chemical test or refused chemical test on a third offense are exactly the same as those for a second offense as outline above.  However, if a person has three criminal convictions for operating while intoxicated, then the Department of Transportation is required to suspend their license for six (6) years, with no possibility of getting a work permit for one (1) year.

Where can I drive on a temporary license?
The work permit or temporary license which is issued following an OWI, allows the person to drive to and from the person's home to the following places:
- full or part-time employment
- continuing health care or continuing health care of a dependent
- continuing education 
-substance abuse treatment
-court ordered community service
- appointments with parole or probation officers

What do I need to do to get my temporary license?
- wait for the hard suspension outline above to pass if you have one
- pay a $200 civil penalty (take cash to the DOT)
- pay a $20 reinstatement fee (take cash to the DOT)
-have an ignition interlock device installed unless exempted as set out under first offenses above
- file SR22 insurance with the DOT
- complete the application for work permit which can be found here.


 

About The Author

Mr. Lindholm has been named to the Top 40 Under 40 and selected to the Super Lawyers list for the third straight year in 2015.  He has also repeatedly been named Avvo's Client Choice and Top Attorney for DUI defense with a Superb rating of 10.0 out of a pos ... read more