Find a Lawyer by Practice
Find a Lawyer by Location
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™
In sufficient quantities, alcohol decreases the function of the brain, impairing your reflexes, reasoning skills and coordination. These effects drastically increase the likelihood of a crash if an intoxicated person gets behind the wheel. Additionally, certain drugs (even legal prescription medications) can impair your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Due to these risks, all 50 states have laws that make driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs illegal. Each state also has its own penalties for DUI or DWI charges. Nevertheless, despite these laws, there are an estimated 111 million instances of people driving drunk across the US each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you or a loved one is facing DUI charges in Iowa, then a criminal defense attorney may be able to help you get those charges reduced or dismissed. Alternatively, a personal injury lawyer can assist you if you sustained injuries in a drunk driving accident. Consult our local listings to find legal help near you. Otherwise, feel free to ask the lawyers any questions you may have regarding DUI laws.
Since drug and/or alcohol intoxication can endanger a driver as well as anyone else on the road, it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle while impaired in all 50 states. Doing so is a criminal offense variously called Driving Under the Influence (DUI), Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) and, rarely, Operating Under the Influence (OUI). In Iowa, state laws use DUI to refer to impaired driving.
Generally, your level of alcohol impairment is gauged by testing your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). This refers to the percentage of alcohol dissolved in your bloodstream. Each state sets its own limits for what BAC constitutes alcohol impairment, although every state but Utah currently sets the legal limit at 0.08%. However, this limit may be lower for certain drivers. Iowa also has an additional category of alcohol offenses: Driving While Alcohol Impaired (DWAI), which occurs if your BAC is between 0.05% and 0.08%.
Additionally, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) imposes stricter BAC limits on commercial drivers. Professional drivers, such as bus and truck drivers, may face DUI charges for a BAC over 0.04%.
You may also face criminal charges for driving under the influence of drugs. However, it is much more difficult to determine drug intoxication, as opposed to alcohol. A blood test is usually the only definitive method for accurately gauging drug intoxication. The difficulty with this method is that a blood test may take several days to return results; by contract, a breathalyzer test takes only seconds to determine BAC. As a result, law enforcement may sometimes stop and/or arrest motorists on suspicion of drugs, even if that person is not intoxicated.
The penalties you may face for DUI or DWAI charges in Iowa usually depend on whether you have a history of similar arrests. Outside of criminal charges, the Iowa Division of Motor Vehicles may suspend your license for any DUI or DWAI. Generally, the potential criminal penalties are:
Despite comprehensive DUI laws, thousands of alcohol-related car accidents still occur in Iowa every year. Some of the most important drugged and drunk driving statistics include:
In many cases, a criminal defense attorney may be able to help you reduce the impact of DUI charges on your life. If you have questions or concerns about DUI laws, then do not hesitate to ask the lawyers. Otherwise, if you need to speak with a lawyer, then consult our local Iowa listings.