Increased OWI Enforcement During the Holiday Season

Your holiday plans might include partaking in a few alcoholic beverages with friends and family members. If you plan on drinking this holiday season, please remember to be safe.

Drunk driving accidents and fatalities increase during this time of the year. As such, police departments throughout Iowa increase their efforts to get drunk drivers off the roads.

By planning, you can help avoid serious traffic collisions and OWI charges.

Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over Campaign

During the Christmas and New Year holiday periods, fatal car accidents involving drunk drivers rise. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), December 2019 saw 837 drunk driving crashes. Between December 24 through 26, 2019, and December 28, 2019, through January 2, 2020, there were 210 fatalities, the highest number of drunk driving-related deaths for any holiday period.

Because of the dangers of driving while under the influence, police departments throughout Iowa, including the Iowa City Police Department and the Davenport Police Department as well as the Iowa Department of Transportation, post reminders for people not to get behind the wheel when intoxicated.

Additionally, the Iowa City Police Department is teaming up with the NHTSA for the agency’s 2021 Holiday Season Drive Sober or Get Pulled Overcampaign, which runs from December 15, 2021 through January 1, 2022. The campaign serves as a way to get the message out to all people that drunk driving can have serious consequences, such as causing a serious accident or being arrested for an OWI.

During the campaign period, there is high-visibility OWI enforcement, as police officers work to keep drunk drivers off the road. This means that if you operate a vehicle while under the influence during this time, there is a greater chance that you will be pulled over and/or arrested for OWI. Still, you can take measures to avoid an OWI stop or criminal charge. We’ll go over these in a bit.

The Consequences of an OWI in Iowa

In Iowa, you can be charged with an OWI if you were operating a vehicle with an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher or while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs (Iowa Code § 321J.2). To be “under the influence” means that your normal faculties are impaired by an intoxicating substance, making it difficult for you to drive safely. Note that any amount of alcohol can affect your driving abilities, even if your alcohol concentration is below 0.08.

Iowa takes drunk driving seriously and imposes harsh penalties upon anyone convicted of the offense. Even a first-time violation can substantially upend your life.

Below are some of the consequences of a first OWI conviction:

  • Serious misdemeanor charge: Your record will show that you have been convicted of a serious misdemeanor OWI. This information can affect various aspects of your life, such as getting a job that requires driving.
  • 48 hours to 1 year in jail: Spending any time behind bars can affect your personal and professional life, as you may only be able to see friends and family during visiting hours, and you might miss work while you are confined.
  • $1,250 in fines: The judge may impose a $1,250 upon a conviction, but you may also have to pay fees and court costs. Altogether, this can set you back about $10,000, hurting you financially.
  • 180 days to 1-year driver’s license revocation: Without a driver’s license, you may have difficulty getting to work or taking care of household chores.
  • Higher insurance rates: If you’re convicted of an OWI, you may be considered a high-risk driver, which means your insurance premium might go up.

Tips for Avoiding an OWI This Holiday Season

Although OWIs increase between December and January, they are preventable.

Below are some tips to help you avoid an OWI or alcohol-related accident:

  • Have someone be your designated driver
  • If you don’t have a DD, take public transportation, hail a rideshare service, or call a cab
  • If possible, stay the night wherever you are, and drive home when you’ve sobered up
  • If you host a holiday party, take keys from intoxicated guests and arrange another way for them to get home

Reach Out to an OWI Attorney

At Keegan, Tindal & Jaeger, we encourage safe driving this holiday season. Still, we recognize that mistakes happen. If you were charged with an OWI in Iowa City or the surrounding areas, please contact us to discuss your case. We are here to help you and can fight to seek an optimal result on your behalf.

To schedule a free consultation, call us at (319) 499-5524 or submit an online contact form today.