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Iowa First Offender

You are OWI (Operating While Intoxicated ) in Iowa if your blood alcohol content BAC) is 08% or higher.

First Offense Penalties

OWI is a serious misdemeanor punishable by:


Up to one year in jail and a fine of $1,000, or both. The minimum jail time is 48 hours.


$1000. The judge may waive up to $500 of the fine if the crime did not result in personal injury or property damage. As an alternative to a portion or all of the fine, the court may order you to perform unpaid community service.

Deferred Judgment

Available only for first offender who was not involved in a personal injury crash, who consented to the test and whose test result was less than .15 BAC.

First Offense License Revocation

When a chemical test indicates an alcohol level of .08% or more or the presence of a controlled substance, and you have had no OWI-related revocations in the previous 12 years, your license will be revoked for 180 days.

Alcohol Evaluation

You will also be ordered to complete a substance abuse evaluation and treatment, a course for drinking drivers, and attend a Victim's Panel. In order to reinstate your license, you will have to complete the approved course for drinking drivers, and present proof of completion of a substance abuse evaluation and treatment or rehabilitation services.

Are You Really A First Offender?

OWI convictions and deferred judgments that occurred anywhere in the United States within the preceding twelve years will count in determining whether the offense charged is a first, second or third offense.

Ignition Interlock

You must install an ignition interlock device if the BAC level is .10 or greater or if an accident occurred while you were OWI. The ignition interlock will prevent you from driving your vehicle if you have any alcohol in your system. Cost: $63 per month + installation.

Temporary Restricted License

If your license is revoked, you may apply for a temporary restricted license.

If you tested between .08% and .10% BAC, and had no crash involving personal injury or property damage, then no 30 day suspension is required and you are not required to have ignition interlock requirement.

If you tested between .10% and .15% BAC and had no crash involving personal injury or property damage, then you will have no 30 day suspension, but ignition interlock is required to receive a temporary restricted license.

If an accident occurred or if the BAC level was .15 or greater you must wait 30 days, and install an ignition interlock.


12 hours of classroom instruction at a cost of $60. Also, in certain parts of the state an Intensive Weekend Intervention program is used which satisfies the 48 hour incarceration requirement. Cost: $285.


According to assessment determination more serious offenders, such as those with BACs of .15% or higher, may also be required to complete out-patient or in-patient treatment programs. In-patient and residential programs are credited against incarceration sentence. Costs vary and offender must pay.

Test Refusal

If you refused to take a chemical test, and you have had no OWI related revocations in the previous 12 years, your license will be revoked for 1 year. You may apply for a temporary restricted license after the first 90 days if an ignition interlock device is installed on all your vehicles (at your expense) and a plea of guilty is entered.

Drivers Under 21

The license of a person under 21 who submits to a chemical test which indicates an alcohol level of .02% or more but less than .08% will be revoked for 60 days on a first violation. If you are suspected of operating with an alcohol level of .02% or more and you refused chemical testing, the license revocation will be one year on a first violation. These revocations are administrative and are not dependent upon criminal charges being filed. If your "under 21" license is revoked for a OWI violation of .02% or more, you will not be eligible for a temporary restricted license at any time during the revocation.

Reinstating A Driver's License

If your motor vehicle license or non-resident operating privilege has been revoked for any OWI offense (whether as a result of a court order or administrative action), the license or privilege may not be reinstated until you pay a $200 civil penalty, present proof of completion of a course for drinking drivers, and present proof of completion of a substance abuse evaluation and treatment or rehabilitation services, and comply with financial responsibility law if applicable.


You insurance will probably go up significantly, and your insurance carrier may drop you, forcing you to find a carrier that offer less coverage for more money. The rates for other family members, and perhaps even for your employer, may also increase.

Even Greater Penalties

Even greater penalties are applicable if your OWI involved an accident, injury, or death, and if you had a minor 16 or under in the vehicle.

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