When a driver is pulled over on suspicion of driving while intoxicated in Iowa, they will usually be asked to take a breath test for blood alcohol content. The driver has the right to refuse the test, but there are serious consequences for the refusal. Of course, there are also serious consequences if the driver takes the test, fails it, and is convicted of OWI.
Under Iowa's implied consent law, every driver is deemed to consent to take a breath test if there are reasonable grounds to believe they are driving under the influence. A first-time refusal to take the test will result in an automatic driver's license revocation for one year. If the driver has refused the test on a prior occasion, the revocation will be for two years. In contrast, if the driver takes the test and fails, the license is revoked for 180 days on a first arrest or one year if there was a prior revocation.
There are other consequences of refusing the test. The driver must pay a civil penalty of $200 and either attend a class on drinking and driving and submit to substance abuse evaluation and possibly treatment. A driver who refuses a test will not be eligible for a restricted driver's license for 90 days after the revocation takes effect, or for one year after the revocation effective date if they have a prior revocation for test refusal. If the driver seeks a restricted license, an ignition interlock device must be installed in their vehicle.
When a driver has to decide whether to refuse a breath test, contacting an attorney immediately is often a good idea. The decision whether or not to take the test will depend on a number of facts and legal issues, and an experienced Iowa OWI lawyer can help the driver make an informed choice.
Source: Iowa Code §§ 321J.9 - 17, accessed July 18, 2015