Holding on Iowa! Iowa holds on out-of-state driver’s licenses

“The State of Iowa has a hold on your driver’s license” the clerk at your local DOT/DMV tells you.  “For what?”, you ask?  “Operating While Intoxicated, test failure (or refusal)” the clerk explains.   “That was over twenty years ago” you say with mounting frustration.  The clerk explains: “Sorry, we can’t renew your driver’s license until this hold is removed by Iowa.”  What do you do?!

Prior operating while intoxicated offenses in Iowa can come back to haunt non-resident driver for years, even decades after the case is resolved.  In Iowa, the criminal prosecution and license suspension proceedings are completely separate.  The criminal charge, where the person is facing jail time and a fine, is completely separate from Iowa’s disqualification of the persons privilege to operate a vehicle in Iowa.  While the criminal offense may be dismissed or resolved, and the court imposed requirements satisfied, the Iowa Department of Transportation still has additional requirements that also have to be satisfied.  Many Iowa attorneys who are not completely versed in Iowa operating while intoxicated laws forget or omit informing their clients of the remaining obligations imposed by the Iowa Department of Transportation after the criminal case is resolved.

Iowa is a member of the interstate drivers license compact.  This means, even if you are not an Iowa licensed driver, the Iowa Department of Transportation will tattle on you to your home state for any offense that occurs in Iowa.  The other states that are members of the compact will also honor holds that Iowa places on a license renewal until the Iowa requirements are fulfilled.  If they are not fulfilled, the hold remains.  For many, their local drivers license renewal station is where they hear about the Iowa requirements for the first time.

While inconvenient and frustrating, there is a solution.  For most, they simply need to complete a substance abuse evaluation, a 12-hour drinking drivers course and pay the Iowa DOT a $200 civil penalty.  Thanks to COVID-19, all of this can now be done from the comfort of your own home.  COVID-19 exceptions in place for a limited time allow telephonic substance abuse evaluations and virtual drinking driver’s course completion.  It is uncertain how long these exceptions will be in place so moving quickly is in your best interest.

Quality substance abuse evaluations can be secured through Assessment Services, Inc., located in West Des Moines, Iowa.

A virtual 12-hour drinking drivers course is offered through Des Moines Area Community College.

The $200 civil penalty can be paid online at the following Iowa Department of Transportation Link.

Substance abuse evaluations and drinking driver courses can be obtained at other locations as well.  The full list can be searched under GRL Law’s resource page.  There are also procedures for home-state evaluations and classes to be accepted by the Iowa Department of Transportation but that process can be a little frustrating and complicated.  Participating in approved Iowa programs guarantees the Department of Transportation’s acceptance of the class and evaluation.