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Defending Against Your First OWI or DUI Offense In Iowa

If you are arrested for operating while intoxicated (OWI) also known as driving under the influence (DUI) for the first time in Iowa and do not bail out before the morning, you will be brought before a judge or magistrate for an initial appearance. At the initial appearance, bail will be set if it was not previously set, you will be advised of your right to an attorney, and a date will be set for a preliminary hearing. The preliminary hearing is a probable cause hearing where the state only needs to prove that there’s probable cause to believe that a crime was committed. In Iowa, the state can avoid the preliminary hearing by filing what are called trial information and minutes of testimony forms.

The trial information is a document that lays out the crime that the state says you’ve committed and the minutes of testimony is the document that contains the probable cause that the state says proves that you did, in fact, commit the crime outlined in the trial information. Once the trial information is filed, a date will be set for your arraignment. The arraignment is an important element of criminal procedure. It prevents the state from holding defendants indefinitely without charging them. In fact, in Iowa, the trial information and minutes of testimony must be filed within 45 days of arrest or the charges may be dismissed. This is commonly referred to as speedy indictment. At the arraignment, a pretrial conference date will be set.

Following the arraignment, and prior to the pretrial conference, a motion to produce is filed with the court. After the motion is filed, a judge will enter an order that instructs the state to provide the defendant or their attorney with all the evidence it has against the defendant. It’s at this point that the lawyer will review the stop and subsequent request for a breath, urine or blood sample to determine if there were any constitutional violations or errors involved in the request. They will also determine whether there are questions for the officer and whether depositions will need to be held. If there are constitutional violations or errors, then a suppression motion will be filed. If not, the defendant will typically proceed to the pretrial conference, where plea discussions, the need for depositions or their intent to proceed to trial will be discussed. Following this hearing, further pretrial conferences or a status conference will be set. These conferences are similar to the first pretrial conference, with each subsequent hearing bringing the defendant closer to trial.

Penalties For A Driving Under The Influence First Offense

In Iowa, there are two parts to driving under the influence charges. They are as follows:

  1. The first part of your OWI or DUI is the criminal side. In Iowa, driving under the influence is defined as operating while intoxicated (OWI) under Iowa Code Section 321J.2. An OWI first offense is a serious misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in the county jail, a minimum of 48 hours and a fine of $1,250 and a surcharge of $187.50. There are often other costs associated with driving under the influence, such as a $300 probation fee, a $375 OWI weekend program, an alcohol evaluation and treatment costs. Under certain circumstances, you may be eligible to have your fine cut in half.
  2. The second part of your first OWI or DUI is the administrative side. In simple terms, it’s what is going to happen with your driver’s license. You have 10 days from the date of your arrest to file an appeal of your driver’s license suspension. If an appeal is timely filed, then your suspension will be stayed, and an administrative hearing will be set. Prior to the hearing, you will have the ability to receive the evidence against you, and at the hearing, you will have the ability to raise issues and question the arresting officer. Any constitutional violations may result in the dismissal of the suspension, in which case you will not lose your driver’s license.

If you provided a breath sample and there were no issues with the administration of the data master test, then your license will be suspended for 180 days. If you refused the breath sample and there were no issues with the procedure of the request, then your license will be suspended for one year. In any event, assuming that there are no other license issues, you are eligible for a temporary restricted license (TRL). In order to be issued a TRL, you must obtain SR22 car insurance, install an ignition interlock device (vehicle breath test) and pay a $200 civil reinstatement fee.

Reach Out To Us To Learn More

Multiple OWI charges? Questions about your OWI / DUI case? Contact the experienced criminal defense lawyers at Lombardi & Miler Law Firm PLLC today at 515-513-5324.