Iowa Drunk Driving Laws

Drunk Driving - 1st, 2nd and 3rd Offense

Iowa Code section 321J.2 prohibits an individual from operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or a combination of drugs or alcohol; or while having an alcohol concentration of .08 or greater.  There are two elements of Operating While Intoxicated that the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt at trial:

  • The defendant operated a motor vehicle;
  • He/she did so while under the influence of alcohol or drugs; OR
  • While having an alcohol concentration of .08 or greater.

"Operating" is defined by the Iowa Supreme Court as: the immediate, actual physical control over a motor vehicle that is in motion and/or has its engine running.  Thus, sitting in a vehicle, even with the keys in the ignition, so long as the engine is not running, does not and cannot constitute "operating."

In Iowa, an individual is considered "under the influence" when by drinking liquor and/or beer, one or more of the following is true:

  • His reason or mental ability has been affected;
  • His judgment is impaired;
  • His emotions are visibly excited;
  • He has, to any extent, lost control of bodily actions or motions.

Additional OWI Related Offenses

Serious Injury by Vehicle

Unintentionally causes a serious injury (bodily injury which creates a substantial risk of death or which causes serious permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ or major bodily member, or which causes the loss of any bodily member) by
Operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (as set forth above).

Vehicular Homicide

Unintentionally causes death of another; by
Operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (as set forth above).

Public Intoxication

Iowa law prohibits public intoxication.

Have you been arrested or currently under investigation?

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What happens if you get a DUI?

When somebody gets a DUI, they have two different fights going on. They've got the Department of Transportation, who's trying to suspend their driver's license, and they've got the criminal component of the case, where the state of Iowa's trying to impose fine, jail time, surcharges, court costs, those types of things. Both of them have preliminary steps that are important to take.