Collateral Consequences

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I Lose My Job?

There is no clear cut answer to this question as Iowa is a “work for hire” state, meaning that an employer does not need a particular reason to fire an employee so long as termination is not based upon a discriminatory practice.  Every employer is different and has different policies when it comes to retention of employees that have been convicted of a criminal offense.  Those who make a living driving a vehicle, especially commercial vehicles, are most likely to see adverse employment consequences from a DUI conviction.

Is An Operating While Intoxicated Conviction a Felony?

OWI 1st and 2nd offenses are NOT felony convictions in the State of Iowa.  Third Offense, Serious Injury by Vehicle and Vehicular Homicide convictions are felonies.

Is a DUI Conviction a Crime of Dishonesty or of Moral Turpitude?


Is a Deferred Judgment a “Conviction?”

No.  A deferred judgment in Iowa is not considered a criminal conviction for purposes of criminal history checks.  HOWEVER, many times employers will hire out of state companies to do background checks who do not understand or know how to read Iowa criminal history reports.  If a person is required to sign an authorization to obtain their ARREST record, they would be well advised to check “no” on the conviction question but to none-the-less disclose that they received a deferred judgment simply so the potential employer knows that the individual is being up front and honest with them.

How Long Do I Need SR22 Insurance?

Two years.

How Long Will a DUI Affect my Insurance Rates?

Every insurance company is different on what they consider and how far back the will look to determine applicable insurance risks and corresponding rates.  The general rule of thumb though is that a conviction for DUI will adversely affect a person’s “insurability” through various insurance companies for approximately seven years.

Will a DUI Conviction Affect My Professional Licensure?

Operating While Intoxicated (DUI) charges is the one criminal offense that impacts the widest range of socioeconomic classes.  Whether it be doctors, lawyers, accountants, CEO’s, business leaders, financial advisors, nurses, teachers, contractors, or other well-employed professionals, no one profession avoids the glare of law enforcement lights better than any other.  One question that is often brought up when a professional is charged with Operating While Intoxicated is “what about my professional license?”

There is no quick and easy answer for this question as it depends upon each professions code of conduct and individual employment contracts.  Ordinarily though, professional licensing regulations are only implicated in cases involving convictions for felony offenses, crimes of dishonesty, or substance abuse issues that directly impact or involve the professional’s job performance.  

A first offense operating while intoxicated charge is NOT a felony, nor is it a crime of dishonesty or one that would ordinarily impact or involve a professional’s job performance.  Obviously, if the allegations involve the operation of a company vehicle or occur during the course of performing employment duties, that is a completely different analysis.  An ordinary operating while intoxicated, first offense, however, should not result in suspension or disqualification of professional licensing barring extenuating circumstances.

A second offense OWI/DUI, presents a more difficult question.  Under Iowa law, a second offense OWI is an Aggravated Misdemeanor, carrying with it the possibility of an indeterminate 2 years in prison OR a determinate (specific) term of days in jail, not to exceed 365 days.  According to Iowa law, this does not qualify as a felony.  However, federal law defines a felony to include any offense that is punishable by more than 1 year in jail.  Technically an aggravated misdemeanor could qualify as a felony conviction although for most employment and licensing issues, the state law of the individual’s home state will ordinarily guide licensing decisions.

A third offense drunk driving conviction is a felony conviction.  Count on a conviction for such an offense to have serious consequences on professional licensing.  Most professional licensing boards and codes of conduct consider felony convictions ground for suspension or revocation.

Can I Get Into Canada?


You have to be careful if you are planning to travel to Canada with an OWI on your record. Canada is one of a few countries that excludes non-citizens for having an OWI. Canada shares criminal and motor vehicle databases with the United States and a check of your record at the border or in Canada will likely show your inadmissibility into Canada. 

Canadian admissibility is determined by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). Under IRPA, a foreign national is inadmissible into Canada if they committed or were convicted of an offense that would constitute an “indictable” offense under Canadian law. There are a number of charges that can put you into the inadmissible category of persons. The first is impaired driving when a person drives impaired to any degree, no matter how slight, by alcohol or drugs. The second is excessive BAC, when a person drives with a BAC of .08% or more. The third indictable offense is refusing to submit a PBT, breath, or a blood sample to screen for alcohol or drugs. Similarly, a conviction for boating under the influence may also render a person inadmissible into Canada. Any offense that is punishable by a prison term of ten or more years will also render you excludable. It is important to note that even if you are not criminally convicted for OWI but you lose your license in an administrative DOT hearing, you will also be excludable. 

A person who has a verdict of guilty, a plea of guilty, or a deferral will be deemed inadmissible under Canadian law. A plea down to a lesser charge than OWI will not make you inadmissible unless the lesser charge would constitute an “indictable” offense under Canadian law. A comparison between the Canadian law and the law of the state you are in is necessary. A person will not only be excludable when driving into Canada but also when traveling to the country by plane and boat as well. If you are inadmissible and found in Canada you can be deported and possibly even prosecuted criminally.

All hope is not lost if you have inadmissible status, however. You may be granted relief from your inadmissibility depending on the nature, number, and timing of your convictions. A person that has a single OWI or other indictable offense that is punishable by less than ten years is automatically deemed “rehabilitated” ten years after the date the court orders its punishment if you don’t get any other convictions. A person with two or more indictable offenses (such as an OWI) cannot be deemed rehabilitated. If you fall into this category or if you just have one OWI and want to be allowed into Canada earlier than ten years, you can apply for rehabilitation status five years after the court orders your punishment. The application is available at the Immigration Canada website. The application fee ranges from $200-1000 Canadian and requires extensive documentation, including references attesting to your good character. The processing time can take up to one year, so plan accordingly.

A person can also apply for a Temporary Resident Permit for those who want to travel to Canada before the five year period. These allow for entry of up to six months. They also range from $200-1000 and can take up to 6 months to issue. These permits can be issued at the border but are rarely granted, so don’t risk it. Whether you will be issued a permit depends on the reason for the visit. Hunting, fishing, or vacation trips are least likely to be approved, while business trips and humanitarian missions are more likely to be granted a permit. The bottom line is to check with an attorney and cover your bases before you take a trip up north. 

This content is a summary of, In and Out of Canada, published in NCDD Journal, Vol. 1, Issue 2, Spring 2010, by Wayne R. Foote, of Bangor, Maine.  The full article can be found at Maine DUI Attorney Wayne R. Foote.

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