Frequently Asked Questions - OWI And DUI

Should I take a breath test?

The most common question asked of criminal defense lawyers who work on Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI or DUI) cases is: "Should I take a breath test if I'm accused of OWI, DWI or DUI?" Unfortunately, there is no uniform answer for this question. There are several factors that determine the best course of action, like the level of offense (first, second or third), how much you have had to drink, and whether a work permit is important if you should lose your license. For more information on breath tests:

Breath Test Factors

Can I get a work permit or temporary restricted license in Iowa after losing my driving privileges for an OWI?

For a first offense, yes. The revocation is this instance is 180 days for an OWI test failure and one year for an OWI test refusal. If your breath test was over .10 you will need to have an interlock device installed in your vehicle. If you blew over .15, or were involved in an accident you will also need to wait 30 days after the revocation starts before you get you work permit. If you refused a breath test, you will have to wait 90 days prior to getting your work permit.

*Anyone under 21 will need to wait at least 60 days prior to receiving a work or school permit.

For a second offense test result you lose your privileges to drive for one year and will have to wait 45 days until you can obtain a work permit. A second test refusal results in a two-year revocation, and a work permit can be obtained after the first year. In each case a work permit will require that you have an interlock device in your vehicle.

If you have any combination of deferred judgments and convictions for OWI three times within twelve years, you will lose your license for six years, regardless of whether you took or refused a test. After a one-year period of ineligibility for a work permit, you may get a work permit with Court approval.

Sometimes figuring out whether you can get a work permit is very difficult, especially if you have other citations on your driving record. We can assist you with finding out what you can do to get back on the road. Call 319-887-6900 or email today!

A comprehensive chart of driving sanctions for OWI and for other driving offense like Driving While Barred or Suspended appears on the Iowa Department of Transportation's website.

Can I be arrested for OWI if the vehicle wasn't moving?

If the officer has reasonable grounds for approaching your vehicle, and suspects you might be under the influence, then you may be arrested for an OWI even if your vehicle was not moving. It's important to speak with an OWI attorney to determine if your rights as a defendant were upheld.

Can I get my Iowa OWI expunged?

Expungement refers to the legal process for removing or clearing a person's criminal record from the court file or public record. This can be important to college students applying for jobs after graduation. Once you are arrested, that arrest remains on your record unless you get it expunged, even if the charge was later dismissed. An OWI may be expunged in Iowa if the defendant received a deferred judgment and fulfilled their probation and paid any and all fees owed. Our attorneys can assist you with your criminal record questions.

What is a deferred judgment?

In Iowa, a deferred judgment refers to a postponed or delayed judgment, where the defendant is given an opportunity to complete a probationary period and avoid a permanent conviction on their criminal record.

You may be eligible for a deferred judgment in Iowa if

  • You did not refuse a breath test
  • Your BAC did not exceed .15
  • You did not have a prior OWI (whether deferred or not)
  • Or if a bodily injury occurred to someone other than the defendant

It is important to keep in mind a person can only receive two deferred judgments in their lifetime.

How far back are OWI convictions considered?

Iowa has a 12-year "look back period" for OWI offenses.