Iowa has a 12 year “look back” period for prior convictions when determining whether or not a new offense is considered a second or subsequent offense. This applies for both the Department of Transportation and the criminal prosecution. Twelve years is counted from the date of sentencing on the prior offense to the date of commission of the newly charged offense.
For purposes of the criminal charge enhancement a prior conviction is any deferred judgment or sentence imposed for operating while intoxicated or driving while under the influence offense in this state or any other jurisdiction so long as the other jurisdiction’s law is substantially similar to Iowa’s. Deferred judgments DO count as prior convictions for enhancement purposes.
For purposes of the Department of Transportation determining an individual’s length of suspension, they too only go back 12 years. Rather than looking at convictions though, the Department of Transportation looks at prior suspensions for operating while intoxicated offenses. This means that for license suspension purposes, prior zero tolerance or .02 violations count as prior offenses. Thus, if an individual has a prior suspension for a .02 violation and picks up a new operating while intoxicated charge within the next 12 years, the license suspension period will be calculated as a second or subsequent offense although it would only be a 1st offense criminally.
It is also important to understand that while the prosecution can only use a conviction that occurred within the last 12 years of the new offense for enhancement purposes on the criminal charge, the Court is free to consider any and all lifetime prior offenses at sentencing when determining the appropriate punishment.
OWI-DUI.com can help
If you have been charged with a subsequent operating under the influence offense - commonly referred to as a DUI in many states, and OWI under Iowa law - there is hope for having the charge reduced, possibly even dismissed. While there are no guarantees, you will find some of the most experienced and knowledgeable criminal and drunk driving defense attorneys available in the state of Iowa listed on this website.
If you have prior convictions, do not settle for whatever the district attorney may have counted; get legal help (call 1-877-749-7858 or EMAIL AN ATTORNEY TODAY) to determine exactly which of those prior convictions truly should be counted.
Important notation: The judicial system may seem to work very slowly, but when you are person being charged, please don't make the mistake that it will seem as slow to take action with you. The wheels of justice have a way of speedily hurrying towards anyone charged with a drunk driving offense. You should seek the advice of one of the highly qualified OWI defense attorney as soon as possible. We highly recommend the OWI defense attorneys listed here; they are broadly regarded as Iowa's top OWI lawyers.