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What Happens If a Commercial Driver Gets an Iowa OWI?

Since commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders operate massive vehicles that transport significant cargo or carry dozens of passengers, they are held to a stricter standard compared to non-commercial motorists. If a commercial driver is convicted of an OWI/DUI in Iowa, not only will he/she face harsh criminal penalties, but his/her career may also be in jeopardy. 

In Iowa and all states throughout the country, the legal limit for adult drivers who are at least 21 years old is a blood alcohol content (BAC) level of .08 percent or higher. However, CDL holders cannot legally operate a commercial vehicle with a BAC of at least .04 percent. Additionally, any amount of drugs in a commercial driver’s blood will result in an OWI arrest. 

When it comes to the status of a commercial driver’s CDL, a first OWI conviction carries CDL disqualification for one year. However, if the commercial driver was arrested while transporting hazardous materials, then the disqualification period will last three years. 

A second or subsequent OWI conviction is punishable by lifetime disqualification. But after ten (10) years pass, a driver with a lifetime disqualification may qualify for reinstatement after 10 years, if he/she completes an approved rehabilitation program. 

If a commercial driver refuses to submit to a post-arrest chemical test in Iowa, his/her CDL will be disqualified for at least one year (again, the disqualification period would be three years if the OWI offense involved transporting hazardous materials). A second or subsequent refusal will also lead to a lifetime CDL disqualification. 

Many commercial drivers who had their CDL disqualified for at least one year end up losing their jobs. Furthermore, even if they reinstate their commercial driving privileges, carriers and trucking companies may be reluctant to hire drivers with an OWI conviction on their records. 

The only way to avoid having a CDL disqualified is by avoiding a conviction altogether with the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney.  

If you or a loved one has been arrested for a commercial OWI in Iowa City or Davenport, contact Keegan, Tindal & Jaeger today at (319) 499-5524 for a free initial consultation. Serving clients facing OWIs in Iowa since 1992. 

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