Several new laws passed by the 2018 Iowa Legislature took effect on July 1, 2018. With the 4th of July holiday upon us, GRL Law wanted to take the opportunity to recap some of the major laws taking effect this week that affect the clients we serve and the areas of law in which we frequently practice.
Personal Injury Law
Dramshop Liability Damages Capped- Iowa Code section 123.92
Under prior law, the “Dramshop Law” allowed a person injured by an intoxicated person to bring suit for damages against the intoxicated person AND a third party who sold or served alcohol to the intoxicated person, such as a bar, liquor store, gas station, or restaurant, when that person or establishment knew or should have know that the person was intoxicated. Under the old law, the establishment or third party who served or sold the alcohol to the intoxicated person was liable to the injured party for ALL damages that the injured party incurred.
Under the new law, a person may only recover damages only if the establishment sold or served the alcohol directly to the intoxicated person and the person was visibly intoxicated at the time of the sale or service. The new law also caps the amount of “non-economic damages” (i.e. pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, disfigurement, loss of consortium, or other nonpecuniary injury) recoverable by each plaintiff at $250,000, unless the jury determines that there is a substantial or permanent loss or impairment of a bodily function, substantial disfigurement, or death, which warrants a finding that imposition of such a limitation would deprive the plaintiff of just compensation for injuries sustained.
“Hard Suspension Periods” on Temporary Restricted Licenses (TRL) following an Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) and Ignition Interlock Requirements- Iowa Code section 321.560
Under previous law, certain persons with OWI related driver’s license revocations were subject to something called a “hard suspension period.” Essentially, this disallowed the person from obtaining a driver’s license or temporary restricted license for a period of time if certain conditions were met. For example, on a 1st offense OWI, a person who supplied a breath test and the test result was .150 or more or there was an accident involved, the person has to sit for 30 days before they could obtain a temporary restricted license; on a 2nd Offense OWI, a person who supplied a test result over .080 had to wait for 45 days. A person who refused to take a test on 1st or 2nd OWI had to wait for 90 days before they could obtain a temporary restricted license. Additionally, under the previous law, a person who had a temporary restricted license could only use the license in very limited situations, such as driving to work or school, making the person’s ability to travel and meet the personal, medical, and other needs of their families extremely difficult.
The new TRL law removes these “hard suspension periods” (i.e. the period of time that the Department of Transportation required that a person sit without any driving privileges at all) for all OWI related offenses other than OWIs causing death. The new TRL law also allows a person to drive anywhere in the state the same as any other person with a valid class C driver’s license, whereas the previous law essentially only allowed a person to drive to work or school.
While the previous TRL law did not require an ignition interlock for OWIs between .080 and .100 BAC, the new TRL law requires an ignition interlock on all vehicles owned or operated by a holder of the TRL.
Any person who had a temporary restricted license issued to them prior to July 1, 2018 can re-apply to obtain the new temporary restricted license which would allow the person the ability to drive anywhere; the person, however, has to obtain an interlock device if they did not previously have one.
Removal of 180-day license revocation for drug offenders– Senate Joint Resolution 2007
This Resolution, which took effect on March 13, 2018, did away with the requirement that anyone who was convicted of a drug offense was subject to a 180-day license revocation.
Texting/Calling in a Commercial Motor Vehicle- Iowa Code section 321.499B
This law prohibits commercial motor vehicle operators from texting or using a hand-held mobile telephone while operating a motor vehicle except in an emergency situation. Each violation is punishable as a simple misdemeanor and a scheduled fine of $50.00 plus surcharge and court costs. A person can be subject to additional penalties if the violation results in serious injury or death.
Expanded Definition for Approaching Stationary Vehicles- Iowa Code 321.323A
Previously, this law required motor vehicle drivers to approach certain stationary vehicles displaying flashing lights with due caution and making a lane change away from the vehicle if possible. The new law expands the definition of stationary vehicles to include stationary construction vehicles and allows construction vehicles to display amber flashing lights. Importantly, the new law requiring drivers to proceed with caution and move over also now applies to regular motor vehicles that are displaying their “hazard” lamps. Persons violating this law are guilty of a simple misdemeanor, carrying a $100 fine, plus surcharge and court costs.
Credit Card Skimmers- Iowa Code section 715A.10
This new law expands the current law on credit card “skimmers.” Under the current law, a person commits a Class “D” felony by using a skimmer to access, read, obtain, or store information encoded on a credit care. Under the new law, anyone who possesses a scanning device or “skimmer” with the intent to use it to obtain credit card information commits an aggravated misdemeanor.
Modifications to Second Degree Kidnapping- Iowa Code section 710.3
Under the old law, a person commits kidnapping in the second degree when a person kidnaps another person and holds that person for ransom or when the kidnapper is armed with a dangerous weapon. Under the new law, a person commits kidnapping in the second degree when the victim is under 18 years of age. A person who commits kidnapping in the second degree commits a class “B” forcible felony. A person who commits kidnapping in the second degree must also register as a tier III sex offender under Iowa Code chapter 692A if a determination is made that the offense was sexually motivated.
Creation of the Crime of Critical Infrastructure Sabotage- Iowa Code section 716.11
“Critical infrastructure” is defined to include electrical power generating systems; gas, oil, petroleum, refined petroleum product, renewable fuel, or chemical critical systems; telecommunication or broadband systems; wastewater systems; and water supply systems. The new law defines “critical infrastructure sabotage” to mean an unauthorized and overt act intended to cause and having the means to cause, and in substantial furtherance of causing, a substantial and widespread interruption or impairment of a fundamental service rendered by the critical infrastructure. The Act provides that critical infrastructure sabotage does not include any condition or activity related to the production of farm products or any accidental interruption or impairment of service caused by a person in the performance of the person’s work duties or by a person’s lawful activity. A person who commits critical infrastructure sabotage commits a class “B” felony, punishable by confinement for no more than 25 years, and subjects a person who commits critical infrastructure sabotage to a fine of not less than $85,000 nor more than $100,000.
Classification of “Stun Guns” Modified- Iowa Code section 724.4
This act essentially allows a person to carry a “stun gun” but not a taser (i.e. a stun gun that uses a projectile to immobilize a person). A person 18 years of age or older does not commit the criminal offense of carrying weapons if the person goes armed with a dangerous weapon that directs an electric current, impulse, wave, or beam that produces a high-voltage pulse designed to immobilize a person, as long as such a dangerous weapon does not generate a projectile that directs an electric current, impulse, wave, or beam that produces a high-voltage pulse designed to immobilize a person, and such dangerous weapon is not used in the commission of a public offense. Under prior law, such a person commits the criminal offense of carrying weapons, which is an aggravated misdemeanor. A person under 18 years of age who goes armed with a dangerous weapon that directs an electric current, impulse, wave, or beam that produces a high-voltage pulse designed to immobilize a person, whether concealed or not, commits a simple misdemeanor.
Expansion of Prohibition on Contraband in Correctional Facilities- Iowa Code section 719.7
This law expands upon the locations where a person commits the criminal offense of possessing contraband to include a community-based correctional facility, which provide correctional supervision and services in a community setting as an alternative to jail or prison, such as a residential treatment facility. Previously, the law only included jails, prisons, juvenile detention facilities, etc, in the list of locations prohibiting the introduction of contraband. A person commits a class “C” felony if the contraband is a weapon and a class “D” felony if the contraband is a controlled substance, intoxicating beverage, or an item that may be used to facilitate an escape. A person commits an aggravated misdemeanor for failing to report to an official or officer at a community-based correctional facility a known violation or attempted violation involving contraband.
New Exception to the Crime of Illegal Electronic and Mechanical Eavesdropping- Iowa Code section 727.8
Previously, it is a serious misdemeanor for a person to tap into or connect a listening or recording device to any telephone or other communication wire, or through electronic mechanical means to listen to, record, or otherwise intercept a conversation or communication of any kind. The new law creates a new exception to the rule: a person does not commit the crime of mechanical eavesdropping if they use a “monitoring device.” A “monitoring device” means a device that records, listens to, or otherwise intercepts video or audio communications in order to provide proof of or prevent criminal activity that is placed outside of a person’s dwelling or other structure that is not in a shared hallway and is on real property owned or leased by the person. Essentially, the legislature has made it legal to eavesdrop via surveillance systems intended to provide proof of or prevent criminal activity placed on a person’s residence.
Crime Victim Restitution Paid to Victims’ Estates or Heirs- Iowa Code section 910.3B
This new law provides that restitution awarded under Iowa Code section 910.3B to the victim’s estate or heirs at law shall not be reduced by any third-party payment, including any insurance payment, unless the offender is a named or covered insured. The minimum restitution amount awarded shall be at least $150,000. Essentially, the offender (for example, a person convicted of vehicular homicide) cannot avoid their restitution obligation if a third party pays on their behalf, unless the third party is an insurance company and the offender is the named insured person.
Carrying Weapons on Snowmobiles or ATVs- Iowa Code sections 321G.13, 321I.14 and 724.4
Under prior law, a person could operate or ride a snowmobile or ATV with a loaded firearm, whether concealed or not, without a permit to carry weapons, if the person operates or rides on land owned by the person, and the person’s conduct is otherwise lawful. Iowa Code now also allows a person to operate or ride a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle with a loaded firearm on land rented by the person and the person’s conduct is otherwise lawful. “Rented by the person” includes a person actually renting land but also means a person who principally provides labor for the production of crops located on agricultural land or for the production of livestock principally located on agricultural land. The person must personally provide such labor on a regular, continuous, and substantial basis. A person who commits a simple misdemeanor punishable as a scheduled fine of $100.
Iowa Code section 724.4 was also amended in relation to carrying weapons. Under the previous version of the law, a person was not guilty of the offense of carrying weapons in violation of Iowa Code section 724.4 if the person goes armed with a dangerous weapon in the person’s own dwelling or place of business, or on land owned or possessed by the person, and the person does not qualify for another exemption under Iowa Code section 724.4(4). The new law adds land “rented by the person.”
Prohibition on Flying Drones over Correctional Facilities- Iowa Code section 719.9
This new law states that a person shall not operate an “unmanned aerial vehicle” (i.e. a “drone”) knowing that the drone is operating in, on, or above a county jail, municipal holding facility, detention facility for juveniles, community-based correctional facility, or correctional institution, unless the drone is operated by law enforcement or the person has permission from the authority in charge of the facility to operate the drone. A person who violates the section commits a class “D” felony.