Can You Lose Your Driver’s License in an Iowa OWI?

In Iowa, one of the penalties for operating while intoxicated is losing driving privileges. The sanction can be imposed immediately as a result of administrative processes. It may also be rendered later by the court upon a conviction. Depending on your situation, you could lose your driver’s license for 90 days to 6 years. To get it reinstated, you must satisfy civil penalties, including a reinstatement fee, substance abuse evaluation, and alcohol treatment. Having your driving privileges suspended for any time can create a hardship, making it difficult for you to take care of errands or go to work or school. A criminal defense lawyer can help protect your rights by fighting your OWI charge.

At Keegan, Tindal & Jaeger, our Iowa City team aggressively fights for our clients, seeking favorable outcomes on their behalf. Speak with us by calling (319) 499-5524 or submitting an online contact form today.

The Two Processes at Work in an Iowa OWI

A person can be charged with OWI under Iowa Code § 321J.2 if they operate a vehicle under certain conditions.

These conditions include:

  • Being under the influence of alcohol and/or a drug,
  • Having an alcohol concentration of 0.08 or higher,
  • Having any amount of a controlled substance in the person’s system.

If you are arrested for an alleged violation, two processes are triggered. The administrative process deals with your failure or refusal of a chemical test. The criminal process is concerned with whether you are guilty or innocent of operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

You could lose your driver’s license under both administrative and criminal processes.

Immediate Loss of Driving Privileges Under the Administrative Process

In Iowa, any person arrested because an officer had reasonable grounds to believe they were driving while intoxicated is considered to have permitted authorities to subject them to a chemical test. This is referred to as an implied consent law.

A blood, breath, or urine analysis is used to determine your alcohol concentration level or whether you had a controlled substance in your system. If you fail or refuse the test, your driver’s license can be immediately suspended, even before your criminal case is completed. How long you could lose your driving privileges depends on the circumstances.

Chemical test failure (alcohol concentration at or above 0.08 or presence of a controlled substance):

  • First offense:
    • 180-day revocation period
  • Second offense:
    • 1-year revocation period

Chemical test refusal (did not permit the taking of a blood, breath, or urine sample):

  • First offense:
    • 1-year revocation period
  • Second offense:
    • 2-year revocation period

Driver’s License Revocation After an OWI Conviction

If you are found guilty of OWI, in addition to jail time, fines, and/or victim restitution, the court can also impose a driver’s license revocation. As with the revocation periods under the administrative processes, the amount of time you could be without driving privileges depends on your situation.

Deferred adjudication:

  • 90-day revocation period

First OWI conviction:

  • 180-day revocation period

Second OWI conviction:

  • 1-year revocation period

Third OWI conviction:

  • 6-year revocation period

Any offense resulting in personal injury to another:

  • 1 year added to any other driver’s license revocation imposed

Any offense resulting in death:

  • 6-year revocation period

How Do You Reinstate Your Driving Privileges?

Whether your driver’s license was revoked due to administrative or criminal processes, it’s not automatically restored after the revocation period ends. You must satisfy various civil penalties to get it back.

The civil penalties include the following:

  • Proof of SR-22 insurance
  • Civil penalty fees
  • Driver’s license reinstatement fees
  • Pass an examination
  • Completion of a drinking driver program
    • 12-hour course
    • $180 at your expense
  • Substance abuse evaluation
  • Substance abuse treatment (if recommended)

Can You Drive at All During the License Revocation Period?

You cannot legally operate a vehicle when your driver’s license is revoked. However, Iowa allows certain individuals to seek and obtain a temporary restricted license, enabling them to drive in any way they would if they had a valid driver’s license.

To get a temporary restricted license, you would have to have an ignition interlock device installed (IID) on your vehicle. The IID is attached to your car’s ignition system and requires that you blow into it before turning on the vehicle. If a specific amount of alcohol is detected on your breath, your car won’t start.

The temporary restricted license is not available to the following individuals:

  • Persons under 21 years of age who had an alcohol concentration of 0.02 or higher at the time of their alleged offense,
  • Commercial driver’s license holders, and
  • Persons under 18 years of age.

Contact Keegan, Tindal & Jaeger Today

The loss of driving privileges is just one of several penalties you could face for an OWI in Iowa. Still, you can seek to avoid it by challenging the allegations against you. A defense lawyer can examine your case, determine what defenses may be raised, and develop and present arguments to pursue a favorable outcome.

Schedule a consultation with one of our Iowa City lawyers by contacting us at (319) 499-5524 today.