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What are the penalties for OWI?

On Behalf of | Dec 6, 2021 | Criminal Defense

In Iowa, drivers on the roadway who are suspected of drunk driving could face a charge called operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, or OWI. It carries significant penalties, which can include jail time. Here is what you should know about the penalties for OWI in Iowa.

Criminal penalties for OWI in Iowa

Defendants who go through the legal process and are ultimately found guilty of drunk driving in Iowa are typically sentenced to a minimum of 48 hours in a local jail, usually combined with a fine of up to $1,250. However, if no property or bodily damage resulted from the offense, the judge has the discretion to forego up to half of the above penalties.

With each successive OWI conviction, as with other crimes, the sentences increase in severity. For a second OWI charge, convicted Iowans may receive a maximum prison sentence of two years.

Civil penalties

In addition to the criminal penalties, you could be on the hook for civil penalties following an OWI conviction. For the first offense, you will lose your license for six months; you’ll lose your license for one year for the second offense and three years for the third offense.

Know your rights as a defendant

It’s important to remember that just being arrested and charged with OWI is not enough to result in criminal and civil penalties. The accused in Iowa, as in other parts of the country, have constitutional rights to defend themselves in court.
For example, if the traffic stop that resulted in the charge was not legal in the first place, then you have legal grounds for dismissal of the case.

As you can see, the civil and criminal penalties for OWI in Iowa can be harsh. The best course of action is to avoid driving while intoxicated at all costs. If you do find yourself charged with OWI, putting together a defense strategy may potentially save time, money and even your freedom.