In Iowa, an OWI charge may be levied if you drive while under the influence or when your blood alcohol concentration is .08 or more. The consequences of a conviction are severe and include jail or prison time, fines, and loss of driving privileges. Still, the penalties are not certain just because you were charged with operating while intoxicated. You can fight your OWI charge. To do so, you must demonstrate weaknesses in the prosecutor’s evidence. Although you might think that certain pieces of evidence, such as the results from the field sobriety or chemical test, would be difficult to challenge, it may be possible to contest them. A criminal defense lawyer can help build your case.
What Is an OWI in Iowa?
You can get an OWI charge if you operate a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs. You may also face charges if you have an alcohol concentration of .08 or more or any amount of a controlled substance in your system.
An OWI charge in Iowa is a serious offense that can result in severe penalties, including jail time. A first-time violation is a serious misdemeanor. If you are convicted, you would face a minimum sentence of 48 hours in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,250. You may also lose your driver's license for 180 days to 1 year.
A second OWI carries harsher penalties, including a mandatory minimum sentence of 7 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $6,250. You may also face a 1-year driver's license revocation.
A third or subsequent OWI is a class D felony punishable by 30 days to 5 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $9,375. You could lose your driver's license for up to 6 years.
How Can You Challenge an OWI?
If you have been charged with an OWI, you may be feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about what to do next. But it is important to know that you have options, and there may be ways to challenge the charges against you.
An experienced Iowa OWI attorney can help you understand the charges and develop a defense strategy tailored to your unique situation. They can also analyze the evidence to spot holes in the prosecutor’s case. If a judge or jury is not convinced that you committed the offense, they might find you not guilty.
What If You Took the FSTs?
Field sobriety tests (FSTs) are a series of physical assessments used to determine whether a person is impaired. The most common tests are the walk-and-turn test, the one-leg stand test, and the horizontal gaze nystagmus test.
If you have been arrested for OWI, you are not required to take the field sobriety tests. In fact, it is often in your best interest to decline them. However, if you agreed to participate in the assessments, your case is not lost.
Several factors can affect the accuracy of field sobriety test results, including the following:
- The surface on which the test is conducted: An uneven or slippery surface can make it more difficult to complete the test.
- The weather conditions: If it is windy, raining, or snowing, the individual can have trouble balancing or attending to directions.
- The person's physical condition: Fatigue, illness, or injury, can impact a person’s ability to complete the FST tasks.
What If You Took the Chemical Test?
An OWI chemical test is a blood, breath, or urine test that measures a person's blood alcohol concentration (BAC). A BAC of .08 or higher is considered to be evidence of impairment in Iowa.
The implied consent law states that a person who operates a motor vehicle in Iowa implicitly gives permission to take a chemical test if they are arrested for OWI. If a person refuses to take a chemical test, their driver's license may be suspended.
If you provided a specimen, the chemical test might have returned a BAC of .08 or more. However, that does not mean you will automatically be convicted.
Variables that could impact the results of a chemical test include the following:
- Residual breath alcohol
- Improper procedures followed
- Improper machine maintenance
- Improper handling of blood samples
Reach Out to a Lawyer for Help
If you have been charged with an OWI, you may be able to fight the allegations against you. An attorney can assess your situation, analyze the evidence, and determine a path for seeking a favorable outcome on your behalf.
To learn about your legal options in Iowa City, please contact Keegan, Tindal & Jaeger at (319) 499-5524.