.02 For You? What does that really mean?

Iowa has a “zero tolerance” policy with respect to operating a motor vehicle after drinking as it relates to a person under twenty-one years of ageSee Iowa Code Section 321J.2A.  This means that if a law enforcement officer suspects that a person under twenty-one years of age has been consuming alcohol and is operating a motor vehicle, they may legally ask them to a submit a sample of their breath for chemical testing.  If the person submits to the test at the station (i.e. the Datamaster) and the result is great than .02 but less than .08, then the Iowa Department of Transportation has the ability to revoke the person’s license as a result of that test.  The Iowa Department of Transportation will also suspend the person’s license if they refuse to submit to the breath test at the station.  These are commonly referred to as .02 or zero-tolerance violations.

The driver’s license suspension for a first offense will result is a loss of driving privileges for sixty (60) days if the persons submitted to the test and the result is over .02 but less than .08 and ninety (90) days if there is a previous zero tolerance violation on their driving record.  If the person choses to refuse the breath test at the station, the revocation period would be for one year for a first violation and two years for a second or subsequent violation.  A person who has received notice of a suspension for a zero-tolerance violation has the ability to appeal the loss of their driving privileges, this appeal must be made in writing to the Iowa Department of Transportation within ten (10) from the date of the offense.

Although a driver may appeal the loss of their driving privileges following a zero- tolerance violation, these violations differ from a typical OWI driving suspension in two respects.  First, the Iowa Department of Transportation will not stay (i.e. stop) the suspension from going into effect pending the outcome of the appeal for a zero-tolerance violation like they will for a regular OWI offense.  Second, a person who is subjected to a zero-tolerance violation is not eligible to receive a temporary restricted license for the duration of their suspension.  One final consideration is that a zero-tolerance violation which results in a loss of driving privileges may be used to enhance any subsequent suspension imposed as a result of an OWI in the event twelve-years has not passed since the suspension has ended.

At first blush it seems as though it may not make sense to appeal a zero-tolerance violation, however there really is no down-side to doing so.  In the event that the revocation can be removed as a result of some defect in the proceedings, there would be no long-term impact on the person’s driving record and no need for SR22 insurance, and not ability for the DOT to impose an enhance penalty for any subsequent zero-tolerance violation or OWI.