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Jail time & fines

Iowa owi laws

The penalties for operating under the influence in the State of Iowa are as follows:

1st Offense

A first OWI offense is considered to be a serious misdemeanor. The fines related to a first OWI can be as high as $1,500 with a mandatory fine of $1,250 and a 32% surcharge of $400.

2nd Offense

A second offense is considered an aggravated misdemeanor. If convicted with a second offense, an individual can receive up to two years in jail with a mandatory jail time of seven days. An individual also might have to pay fines of up to $5,000, but the mandatory fine is at least $1,850.

3rd Offense

A third offense is a class D felony. This is also the highest level an OWI can go in the State of Iowa. All charges after the third will be charged as third offense. The fines for a third offense go up to $7,500 and have a mandatory fine of $3,125. The jail sentence can be up to five years with a mandatory sentence of at least 30 days.

Additional Penalties

Vehicle Impoundment (Immobilization)

If an individual is arrested for a second OWI, third OWI, or for driving while a license is revoked for an OWI, that individual can get their motor vehicle seized and impounded immediately upon arrest. The impoundment will be for at least 180 days, or until the driver's license revocation is completed, whichever period is longer. If for some reason the vehicle is not impounded at the time of a individual’s arrest, it must be impounded when an individual gets convicted for an OWI. If an individual operates a different vehicle during this time period, that vehicle will be forfeited to the state and criminal charges will be filed.

Substance Abuse Evaluation Program

Any individual convicted of an OWI in The State of Iowa must have a substance abuse evaluation done before sentencing. The court will then order the defendant to follow through with anything the evaluation determines.

The McCartney Center Jail Diversion program

This is a program that is an alternative to jail for people convicted with a first offense OWI. In order for an individual to attend this program, the court must approve it first.

Will I Go To Jail?

An individual may see the inside of a jail cell at the most of two times during a drunk driving investigation. The first is the night of the drunk driving offense.  The second is following sentencing if a conviction is obtained.

On the night of the alleged Drunk Driving Offense, the individual is ordinarily taken to the nearest law enforcement station for purposes of invoking implied consent and requesting an evidentiary chemical test for alcohol.  Each law enforcement agency has a different policy regarding keeping individual in custody following testing.  Some agencies will give the arrested individual a citation and release them to a sober, responsible adult while others require that the arrestee be transferred to the county jail and either post bond or wait to see a judge in the morning.  For most operating while intoxicated charges, the arrestee is released the following morning after seeing the judge on their own recognizance.

The second situation where one may see the inside of a jail cell on a Drunk Driving Charge is if they either plead guilty or are found guilty and sentenced.  In the State of Iowa, each level of operating while intoxicated offense has a mandatory minimum jail term that becomes more severe with each additional Drunk Driving Offense. 

They are as follows: 

  • First Offense = 2 days;
  • Second Offense = 7 days;
  • Third Offense = 30 days. 

On a First Offense however, jail time may be avoided if the defendant is eligible for and receives a deferred judgment.  In that circumstance jail time may not be imposed by the judge.  Also, various counties have developed alternatives to incarceration programs for drunk driving cases wherein the individual participates in the weekend residential program instead of spending the weekend in an actual jail cell. can help

Being arrested for a drunk driving offense can be a tremendously overwhelming experience, but it is minimal compared to the after effects of a drunk driving conviction. The fines, while stout, can be difficult to pay, but the ongoing increased insurance rates, the potential loss of employment, the socwil stigmatism and the repercussions if you ever again arrested for a drunk driving offense are horrendous.

Iowa's Best DUI Defense Lawyers are shown on You can rest reassured by hiring any of these highly competent and well-qualified drunk driving attorneys. To contact an attorney today, please call 1-877-749-7858 or use the online form.

1-877-749-7858 -or- EMAIL AN ATTORNEY TODAY

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The above content is not subject to copyright as it is replicates Iowa statutory law. We ask only that you not copy it verbatim.

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