OWI/DWI There's No Case Too Complex

Des Moines DUI Lawyer

Representation for Fighting Iowa DUI Charges

Branstad & Olson represents clients facing charges for OWI throughout Iowa. If you have been arrested for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated, you face driver’s license suspension, fines, jail time, and probation. Law enforcement has strict rules they must follow when investigating and arresting a person for suspicion of driving while intoxicated. It is essential to have an experienced OWI team on your side to help assess your situation and reach your best outcome.

Contact our Iowa OWI attorneys at (515) 329-3100 today for a free consultation. We can help you understand your rights and legal options.

Iowa OWI Laws

Iowa OWI laws state that it is illegal for any person to operate a motor vehicle:

  • while under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of such substances
  • with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08% or higher
  • any found to have any amount of controlled substance in their system

Those who drive commercial vehicles are considered to be driving illegally with a BAC of .04% or more. The BAC limit for drivers who are under the age of 21 is .02%.

Iowa OWI Penalties

According to OWI laws in Iowa, the penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs are directly related to the offender’s number of previous offenses.

In Iowa, the penalties first-offense, second-offense, and third-offense OWI include the following:

Iowa OWI First Offense

A first offense OWI is classified as a serious misdemeanor resulting in penalties including a jail sentence ranging from 48 hours to 1 year, a fine of up to $1,250, and driver’s license revocation for a period of 180 days to 1 year.

OWI Second Offense Iowa

In Iowa, a second-offense OWI is classified as an aggravated misdemeanor with penalties including 7 days to 2 years in prison, a fine of $1,875 to $6,250, and a minimum of 1 year driver’s license revocation.

Third Offense OWI Iowa

A third-offense OWI or any subsequent offenses are categorized as a Class D felony. A felony OWI conviction will result in a mandatory prison sentence of 30 days but could result in 5 years in prison. The offender will also face a fine ranging from $3,125 to $9,375, as well as 6-year driver’s license revocation.

The court, probation, and DOT penalties may be complex. All OWI offenders will be required to undergo substance abuse evaluation, treatment may be required, and a course for drinking drivers may be required. Additionally, the driver may be required to install an ignition interlock device in their car.

Problems with Field Sobriety Testing: Are They Reliable?

A casual drive home can quickly turn into an OWI arrest if you “fail” the Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST). The SFST is a battery of three tests used to determine whether there is probable cause to arrest someone for operating while intoxicated (OWI), and while they have been widely used for decades, they can be inaccurate and unreliable for various reasons.

Types of Field Sobriety Tests

The three types of field sobriety tests below:

  • Horizontal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test: This test measures the involuntary jerking of the eyes, which occurs when they move side-to-side. However, when a person is intoxicated, their nystagmus may occur at lower angles and they may be unable to smoothly track a moving object as a result. HGN tests require a person to follow a pen or penlight as it moves side-to-side, allowing the officer to examine if the suspect’s nystagmus is exaggerated.
  • Walk-and-turn test: An OWI suspect will be asked to take nine steps along a straight line, walking heel-to-toe, with their arms relaxed at their sides. An officer will then instruct them to turn and take nine heel-to-toe steps back in the opposite direction.
  • One-leg stand test: A police officer will instruct the suspect to raise one leg 6 inches from the ground with both arms relaxed to the side for about 30 seconds. At the same time, the suspect may be asked to count in thousands (one thousand one, one thousand two, etc.). If you’re thinking this field sobriety test is challenging for many people, you’re right.

Although field sobriety tests are a standard component of OWI stops, that does not mean they are 100% accurate. SFSTs measure your normal functions to determine whether you are impaired or intoxicated, but after learning how these tests work, it’s fair to argue that normal functions to do consist of walking heel-to-toe and balancing on one leg, for instance. As such, one minor slipup can have costly outcomes.

The effectiveness and accuracy of SFSTs depend on various factors, such as the officer’s test instructions, weather conditions, and the suspect’s underlying medical conditions. You should also know the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports HGN tests being 77% accurate, walk-and-turn tests 68%, and one-leg stand tests 65%.

Factors that Impact Reliability

HGN test

  • Prescription medications
  • Nervous system disorders
  • Vestibular system disorders
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Fatigue
  • Stress

Walk-and-turn test

  • Improper footwear
  • Poor weather conditions
  • Balance issues and health conditions
  • Road conditions such as slippery or uneven surfaces
  • Distractions of headlights and noise from passing cars

One-leg stand test

  • Poor weather conditions
  • Balance problems and health conditions
  • Unsuitable footwear
  • Uneven and slippery road conditions
  • Interference of passing cars

Call Branstad & Olson Today

An OWI conviction can strip you of your driving privileges, livelihood, and reputation. Not only will your license get suspended but you may also suffer jail time, fines, and more. Don’t let this happen to you. Whether this is your first arrest for OWI or whether you face a third or subsequent conviction, Branstad & Olson is here to ensure all rules were followed by law enforcement and to help you take the best next step. Our Iowa OWI lawyers have over 65 years of collective experience and have successfully handled OWI cases in Iowa.

Call (515) 329-3100 now to start developing a strategic defense with our Des Moines DUI lawyers!

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