Penalties and Consequences

Driver's License Consequences

The DOT only looks at prior drunk driving license suspensions within the past 12 years to determine if the current charge is a 1st, 2nd or subsequent offense. Zero tolerance (.02) offenses count!

First Offense
  Failure Refusal
Suspension Period 6 Months 1 Year
Ignition Interlock Always Always
CDL 1 year (per DOT) 1 year
Second or Subsequent Offense
  Failure Refusal
Suspension Period 1 Year 2 Years
Ignition Interlock Always Always
CDL Lifetime Lifetime

Under Iowa laws, any person found to have been operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated by failing a sobriety test or refusing to submit to a sobriety test must complete a mandatory drinking and driving course.

Criminal Consequences If Convicted

Requires actual criminal conviction for operating while intoxicated.

First Offense
  Failure Refusal
Mandatory Min. Jail Time 2 days if under .15 and no PI accident possibly no jail deferred judgement 2 days not eligible for deferred
Mandatory Min. Jail Fine $1,250 plus 35% surcharge $1,250 plus 35% surcharge
Ignition Interlock Always Always
Second Offense
  Failure Refusal
Mandatory Min. Jail Time 7 days 7 days
Mandatory Min. Jail Fine $1,875-$6,500 plus 35% surcharge $1,875-$6,500 plus 35% surcharge

 

Third Offense
  Failure Refusal
Mandatory Min. Jail Time 30 days 30 days
Mandatory Min. Jail Fine $3,125 plus 35% surcharge $3,125 plus 35% surcharge
Other

FELONY!

  • If convicted, may not register a vehicle in your name
  • Conviction requires 6 year court imposed driver’s license barrment
  • No benefit to consenting to test unless absolutely certain will blow under .08

OWI 1st

Serious Misdemeanor

Jail sentence of up to 1 year in jail but no less than 48 hours; fine of up to $1,500 but no less than $1,250 plus 32% surcharge, court costs and $10 DARE surcharge; Substance abuse evaluation; drinking drivers course; restitution (if any).

An individual with an alcohol concentration under .15 when no accident resulting in bodily injury has occurred and no prior deferred judgment for OWI may be eligible for a deferred judgment which avoids jail time but still results in a $1,250 civil penalty, court costs; substance abuse evaluation; drinking drivers course; restitution; and probation for up to 1 year.

Misdemeanor Convictions

While misdemeanor convictions do not pose nearly the issues that felony convictions pose, they often have devistating effects on a person’s life. Employers often run background checks, and when they do a misdemeanor is a criminal offense that will show up in the final report. Additionally, a misdemeanor can cause issues with obtaining clearances such as a security clearance or a child care center license particularly if the misdmeanor offense involved any violent or sexual crime.

OWI 2nd

Aggravated Misdemeanor

Imprisonment for up to two years but no less than 7 days in jail; fine of up to $5,000 but no less than $1,850 plus 32% surcharge, court costs and $10 DARE surcharge; Substance abuse evaluation; drinking drivers course; and restitution (if any).

Convictions or deferred judgments with in the last twelve years in any state are counted as prior offenses.

Misdemeanor Convictions

While misdemeanor convictions do not pose nearly the issues that felony convictions pose, they often have devistating effects on a person’s life. Employers often run background checks, and when they do a misdemeanor is a criminal offense that will show up in the final report. Additionally, a misdemeanor can cause issues with obtaining clearances such as a security clearance or a child care center license particularly if the misdmeanor offense involved any violent or sexual crime.

OWI 3rd

Class D Felony

Imprisonment for up to 5 years but no less than 30 days in jail; fine of up to $7,500 but no less than $3,125 plus 32% surcharge, court costs and $10 DARE surcharge; Substance abuse evaluation; drinking drivers course; restitution (if any); and court imposed barrment of driving privileges for 6 years.

Felony Convictions

A crime is an act for which the legislature has created a law by which people can be punished if they are convicted for having committed the crime. A felony is an offense for which that punishment will be a sentence to a state or federal prison for the period of one or more years. A misdemeanor offense is any other crime that is not a felony.

Felony Offenses

A felony is the most serious crime. Felony crimes and their related penalties are categorized into “classes” ranging from a Class A Felony – the most serious penalty – downward to lesser classified offenses with lesser penalties. For a chart depicting felony crimes and related penalties, please refer to felony penalties.

Effects of Felony Convictions

In almost all cases, a conviction for a felony offense will result in an immediate harsh prison sentence, however some criminal convictions for felony offenses can also result in lesser outcomes such as delayed sentences (however rare). In all cases, a person who is convicted of a felony will lose liberties that are often taken for granted.

Felony Results in Loss of Liberty to Vote & Bear Arms

Amongst the basic liberties that a felony conviction will affect are a person’s right to vote and bear arms. A convicted felon forever loses his or her right to care a firearm, which includes hunting and keeping a weapon in the home for protection. Until such time that the convicted felon has completed his or her sentence, he or she may not vote. The right to vote will not be restored is any other sentence for a felony conviction has not yet been completed.

Vehicular Homicide

Mandatory 25 years imprisonment; Fine of up to $10,000 but not less than $1,000 plus 32% surcharge, court costs, $125 Law Enforcement Initiative Surcharge and $10 DARE surcharge; $150,000 restitution to victim’s estate; substance abuse evaluation and treatment if recommended; 6 year license suspension. Judge may not give probation or defer judgment. Prison sentence must be imposed.

Serious Injury by Vehicle

Mandatory 5 years imprisonment; fine of up to $7,500 but no less than $750 plus 32% surcharge, court costs, $125 Law Enforcement Initiative Surcharge and $10 DARE surcharge; Substance abuse evaluation; drinking drivers course; and restitution. Judge may not give probation or defer judgment. Prison sentence must be imposed.

Boating While Intoxicated

Criminal Penalties

The criminal penalties are the same as in normal Operating While Intoxicated cases with the exception that the mandatory minimum fines are different. Deferred Judgment eligibility is identical to OWI’s.

First Offense: Serious Misdemeanor
  • Jail up to one year but not less than 48 hours in jail
  • Mandatory minimum fine of $1,000, however, at the discretion of the court, up $500 of the fine may be waived or the court can order the person to perform unpaid community service instead of paying the fine.
  • Court ordered prohibition of operating a motorboat or sailboat for one year.
  • Substance abuse evaluation and treatment if recommended.
Second Offense: Aggravated Misdemeanor
  •  Up to 2 years in prison but not less than 7 days in jail.
  •  Mandatory minimum fine of $1,500 but not more than $5,000.
  • Court ordered prohibition of operation of a motorboat or sailboat for two years.
  • Substance abuse evaluation and treatment if recommended.
Third Offense: Class D Felony
  • Up to 5 years in prison but not less than 30 days in jail.
  • Mandatory minimum fine of $2,500 but not more than $7,500.
  • Court ordered prohibition of operation of a motorboat or sailboat for six years.
  • Substance abuse evaluation and treatment if recommended.

Note: Prior Offenses (Convictions Or Deferred Judgments) For Boating While Intoxicated Within The Past 12 Years Will Be Used For Enhancement Purposes. However, Prior Operating While Intoxicated While In A Motor Vehicle Convictions Do Not Count As Prior Convictions Under This Section For Enhancement Purposes.

Civil Penalties

THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION MAY NOT SUSPEND A PERSON’S MOTOR VEHICLE DRIVING PRIVILEGES FOR A VIOLATION OF BOATING WHILE INTOXICATED LAWS.

If convicted, the sentencing court imposes a restriction on the individual’s ability to operate a motorboat or sailboat in the State of Iowa for the applicable period of time.

Refusals

If an individual arrested or suspected of Boating While Intoxicated refuses to submit to a chemical no test may be compelled.   However, the court (not the Department of Transportation) is required to order that the person not operate a motorboat or sailboat for one year.  In addition, mandatory “civil penalties” are also required.

  • First Offense: $500
  • Second Offense: $1,000
  • Third Offense: $2,000

These penalties are in addition to those provided for if the person is convicted of the criminal offense.

WARNING:  There is a substantial likelihood that these provisions may violate the United States Constitution and Iowa State Constitutional prohibitions against Double Jeopardy!  Punishing an individual’s exercise of a constitutional right to refuse testing when no licensing is required to drive a boat or operate a sailboat may also violate the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1 Section 8 of the Iowa Constitution.

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?

NO.

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?

Maybe.

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.