Underage OWI

Iowa Minor Drinking & Driving Laws

There are two different types of legal problems that can arise for underage individuals that are stopped and investigated for operating while intoxicated. 

First, they can be charged with any and all operating while intoxicated offenses just as a person over the age of 21 may be charged.  In these situations they face the same penalties and same consequences as someone over the age of 21, assuming the person is 18 years of age or older. 

Second, even if they provide a breath sample below .08 their driving privileges may be disqualified for what is commonly referred to as a “zero tolerance” violation.  The “legal limit” for all criminal prosecutions in the State of Iowa for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated is .08.  If a person under the age of 21 provides a breath sample in excess of .08 or is otherwise “under the influence” of alcohol, drug or a combination thereof, they will be charged with the normal operating while intoxicated offenses.  However, individuals under the age of 21, there is a lower “legal limit” that applies only to license revocation proceedings.  That level is .02. 

Under 21 - Alcohol Content In Excess Of .02

In the event that a person provides a breath test and the test indicates an alcohol concentration in excess of .02 but less than .08, and they are under the age of 21, their driving privileges are disqualified for six months on a first offense, and they are not eligible for a temporary restricted license for 60 days from the start of the suspension. 

Driver's License Suspension Immediate

Also, the department of transportation does not issue a stay for zero tolerance violations so the suspension starts immediately and cannot be put on hold.