Mistakes Happen. The Iowa OWI Deferred Judgement Program Can Help

Iowa OWI diversion programDUI/OWI are serious offenses with serious consequences. However, sometimes you think you’re okay to drive when you’re really had too much. Many states make allowances for a one-time mistake in the form of diversion or deferred judgment programs, giving you a second chance with a clean record or a reduced sentence on your record.

The entire state participates in the Iowa OWI Deferred Judgement Program. If you are a first time OWI offender in Iowa, you may be eligible if you willingly submitted to the chemical test at the time of your arrest, your blood alcohol concentration was less than 0.15%, you didn’t cause any type of bodily injury to another person as a result of your OWI, and you don’t have any other deferred judgements, including those in another state. You also have to be willing to plead guilty to your charges and meet the conditions that the court will impose within the specified time frame.

Most Iowa OWI Deferred Judgement Programs last for one year. During that year, offenders must meet specified requirements, such as:

  • Mandatory attendance of an alcohol education class
  • Payment of court costs and evaluation fees, including paying for the alcohol education class
  • Visitation with a probation officer
  • Your drivers will be suspended for a certain period of time but you may apply for a temporary restricted license which will likely require an ignition interlock device

If you meet all of these requirements during your Iowa OWI Deferred Judgement Program probationary period, you will not spend any more time in jail and will not have a conviction. A first time offender who does not participate in this program will serve at least 48 hours in jail and will pay a fine of at least $625, and they also will have a conviction on their record permanently. Through the deferred judgment program, your conviction is not entered and then can be expunged if you meet all the program requirements and paid all fees that you owed. This erases it completely from court files and public record, making it like it never happened.

Educate Your Teens About Iowa Underage OWIs

Iowa underage OWIUnderage drinking is a growing problem in the United States. Drinking and driving incidents involving young people are on the rise. Teens need to be informed of the dangers and consequences of underage drinking, especially if they’re licensed drivers who may get behind the wheel. Many states have now adopted some form of a zero tolerance law when it comes to underage OWIs.

An Iowa underage OWI carries both administrative penalties and criminal consequences if you’re convicted. If you’re pulled over and your BAC is .02% or higher you can be subjected to an administrative license revocation. They will automatically suspend your license for 60 to 90 days depending on the number of offenses.

If convicted of an Iowa underage OWI, you will be subjected to the same criminal punishments as any other OWI offender. For your first offense, if your BAC is under .08%, your license will be suspended for 6 months and you will not be eligible for a temporary restricted license for 60 days. You can obtain a temporary restricted license with the use of an ignition interlock device. If your BAC is above .08%, fines of $625 to $1,250 and jail time of 2 days to a year will be added to your suspension time.

On top of the administrative and criminal punishments for the Iowa underage OWI, you can be subjected to other penalties from charges such as minor in possession or soliciting alcohol. Driving under the influence will be punished quickly and harshly, especially if you’re underage. You will not be given a pass for being young, you will be punished to the full extent of the law.

Parents make sure you discuss the responsibilities associated with being a licensed driver with your children, including making wise choices when it comes to drugs and/or alcohol. Let them fly, but make sure they’re flying safely.

An Iowa Felony OWI is No Laughing Matter

Iowa felony OWIDriving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol is illegal in every state in the United States. Being under the influence not only slows your reaction times but it also decreases your night vision and mental acuity. We have all laughed at things people under the influence have done and said. But it becomes a lot less funny when they are behind the wheel of a car putting their and others’ lives at risk. There is nothing funny about drunk driving or an Iowa felony OWI.

Like other states, Iowa has severe penalties for an OWI, also known as DUI, conviction. Even before you are convicted, there is a considerable amount of time and money that you will have to sacrifice to get through the court system. If convicted, even a first offense carries penalties such as a mandatory 48 hours in jail, a fine of up to $1250 and suspension of your drivers’ license.

Iowa Felony OWI is even more serious. You can be convicted of an Iowa Felony OWI in three different circumstances; if you have previously been convicted of an OWI two or more times, your driving resulted in someone being seriously injured, or your driving resulted in a death. The severity of the penalties increases with the severity of the crime.

Some of the penalties associated with an Iowa Felony OWI are:

  • Prison sentence of up to 25 years depending on the charge
  • Fines or restitution to the victim
  • Substance abuse treatment or rehabilitation programs
  • Suspension or revocation of your license
  • Ignition Interlock Device

A felony conviction will follow you for the rest of your life. It will affect everything from employment and personal relationships to educational opportunities and your basic rights as an American. To live the life you were meant to, make sure you do not get behind the wheel while under the influence of alcohol or drugs of the legal or illegal variety.

Iowa Implied Consent Violations and Consequences

Iowa implied consentDrunk driving can cause tons of different problems. There is the obvious danger to others on the road, as well to the driver, which is why those problems are considered so serious. As such, all 50 states have some type of implied consent laws that say a suspected drunk driver cannot refuse blood alcohol concentration (BAC) testing. Iowa implied consent and no refusal laws address these specific problems, with strict consequences for any violations.

Iowa implied consent laws state that you do not need to explicitly consent to a BAC test officer when asked to do something. It is assumed that you will just do it.  Plus, you actually signed your name in agreement with these laws when you first applied for your driver’s license. If you refuse BAC testing, those no refusal penalties and implied consent violation consequences kick in. Specifically, if you refuse BAC testing before or after an OWI arrest, you will face the following consequences:

Why do Iowa implied consent laws matter?

BAC declines over time as the body metabolizes the alcohol we consume. Many people feel that by refusing a police breathalyzer or other chemical test, they can increase the time it takes before having to inevitably submit a BAC sample to law enforcement. Or, they think that by waiting, their BAC will fall below the .08 percent legal limit. However, in most cases, refusing the BAC test just creates more reason, or probable cause, for a drunk driving arrest. Plus, a .08 percent BAC reading is not the only factor that contributes to an OWI charge, so you can still be arrested for and convicted of drunk driving if your BAC is below the legal limit.

Making Sense of the Iowa OWI Problem

Iowa OWI problemThe Iowa OWI problem needs a little more scrutiny, even as the state ramps up a 24/7 sobriety program to help keep drunk drivers off the road. 24/7 sobriety sounds like a good plan, as it uses technology to monitor those who would possibly risk another OWI. The program an option in the state, available to counties to implement. However, just because people are being monitored for the use of alcohol, they are not necessarily staying out of trouble and out of the driver’s seat.

In 2016, 43 percent of all fatal Iowa OWI crashes involved people with more than one drunken driving offense.

With 24/7 monitoring, those offenders must check in twice a day and have a sobriety test. They are held accountable for any alcohol they have consumed. The problem is that it’s possible for someone to pass a test and then start drinking and driving. If they choose to disregard the consequences of the program – and there are always people who have slips and who disregard the consequences of drinking on any program – then there is nothing to prevent that person from taking to the road and endangering everyone.

This is where ignition interlock devices make the most sense. An ignition interlock actually prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. Thirty states now mandate the devices for all OWI offenders. While some argue that the devices should only be used for multiple offenders, states have found that requiring the requiring the devices for every OWI offense reduces alcohol-related crashes. 24/7 sobriety can help an offender deal with his or her alcohol problem, but ignition interlock devices are the last line of defense for society – it actually prevents drunk driving.

Instead of waiting for another disaster on the roads, now is the time to take action and improve Iowa’s OWI laws. Contact your Iowa state legislators today or talk to your neighbors about increasing awareness of drunk driving prevention. The longer we wait, the more we are part of the problem, and not a factor in the solution.

Can Ignition Interlock Expansion Drop Iowa OWI Numbers?

Iowa OWI and ignition interlock expansionNo news isn’t always good news, particularly when it comes to Iowa OWI laws. Legislation introduced this year to expand Iowa ignition interlock access has not been moving forward. Unfortunately, this is a common story across the U.S., as Florida recently introduced similar legislation and that has since stalled in the process. Can Ignition interlock expansion really help decrease the number of Iowa OWI incidents? Absolutely. How do we get the message out? With facts.

104,243 Iowa OWI incidents were prevented by ignition interlock devices over the last decade, 15,017 of those attempts in 2016, alone.

In 2015, almost 14,000 Iowans had a suspended license because of an OWI charge or conviction. Suspended licenses may send a strong message about the risks of drinking and driving, but they do nothing to prevent a person from actually driving. Unfortunately, that also puts us at risk for a person with a suspended license taking another chance on an OWI, the same mistake they made to have their license taken away. Ignition interlock devices, however, allow those offenders to keep driving, but only if they are sober while doing so.

An Iowa OWI can cost upwards of $10,000, not to mention lost wages that could result from a suspended license and transportation difficulties.

Ignition interlock expansion will help keep Iowa and the rest of the U.S. safe, and with each state that signs on, we get to experience just how safe our roads can be. Until we’ve got each state locked in, we can still do our part to ensure people (and ourselves) are finding safe rides home when drinking. There wouldn’t even be a need to change Iowa OWI or any drunk driving laws if we all used the same amount of thought for a safe ride home that we do when choosing our alcoholic beverage for the night.

Be heard and let your Iowa legislators know where you stand on ignition interlock expansion!

Strengthen Iowa Ignition Interlock and DUI Laws for Safety’s Sake

Iowa ignition interlock and DUI laws need improvmentIowa is trying to get to a better, more sober place in the world. No longer is the state content to be one of the worst states in the U.S. when it comes to ignition interlock and DUI laws. Now the state has a chance to move ahead and get safety right, beyond the approval of a 24/7 sobriety program. We’re talking real change that keeps drunk drivers from making more intoxicated mistakes.

Stronger Iowa ignition interlock and DUI laws would prevent another year of increased road fatalities.

Iowa has a low rating from MADD that gives us insight into effective ignition interlock and DUI laws. MADD doesn’t advocate for 24/7 sobriety programs. Instead, the organization stands behind other legal moves like harsh penalties for DUI child endangerment and expanding ignition interlock access. The rationale is that a person, even one that is monitored throughout the day for any presence of alcohol, can still decide to get in a car and drive. The 24/7 monitoring machine only tests blood alcohol concentration (BAC), and in most cases, those tests only happen twice each day. An ignition interlock device, however, will test BAC no matter how many times an engine is started in a day and then disable the vehicle if alcohol is detected.

Plus, as much as the ignition interlock protects us from more drunk driving, the device also allows a DUI offender the chance to resume life as independently as possible. That can lead to a better recovery with minimal subsequent DUI offenses.

MADD understands that an ignition interlock and DUI driver can move forward after an offense happens. The devices help the offender get back on his or her feet while providing the rest of us with the assurance that no further drunk driving incidents will occur. All progress in strengthening ignition interlock and DUI laws is a good thing, and each step brings us closer to the sober roads we all deserve to drive on.

How Can Iowa Ignition Interlock Devices Save Iowa Lives?

Iowa ignition interlock devices save livesUsed correctly, ignition interlocks are a powerful deterrent to intoxicated driving, requiring offenders who have misused drugs or alcohol to blow into a tube to prove they’re sober before they can start their vehicle. That’s why a statewide coalition is recommending that Iowa’s ignition interlock-related laws, among the weakest in the nation, be strengthened to include stronger supervision, as well as sanctions for offenders who fail an interlock breath test. This year, the bureau convened a group of law enforcement officers, prosecutors and others to recommend ways to curb the number of impaired drivers on state roads. Their 66 proposals include tougher rules for Iowa ignition interlock devices, along with programs that would require twice-daily breath tests for drug and alcohol offenders and documentation of the place where drunken drivers had their last drink.

Iowa’s impaired driving laws are among the weakest in the nation, according to a new report by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The nonprofit group gave Iowa 1.5 stars out of five, below the national average of 2.9 stars. Four states — Arizona, Maryland,  Mississippi and West Virginia — each received 4.5 stars, the highest ratings issued by MADD. Montana received the lowest rating of one-half star.

Iowa fell short in several areas, according to MADD, including:

  • Not requiring all offenders convicted of drunken driving to install an Iowa ignition interlock device, which prevents a vehicle from starting if a driver has been drinking. All repeat offenders in Iowa are required to install the device. First-time offenders must install it only if they injure somebody or cause property damage.
  • Not conducting sobriety checkpoints, which are not authorized in Iowa.
  • Not having a way for law enforcement officers to obtain an expedited search warrant of a suspected drunken driver who refuses to take an alcohol breath test. The state received half a star for penalizing people who refuse to take the breath test.

Right now, Iowa lawmakers are considering new laws that will allow all OWI offenders the ability to use life saving ignition interlock devices. Take action and show your support. Contact your Iowa legislators now! 

Expand Iowa Ignition Interlock Access Now!

Expand Iowa ignition interlock accessIowa gets a low rating for impaired driving laws. If ever there was a state that needed to expand ignition interlock, it is Iowa. Wisconsin, Florida, well… all states that don’t have all-offender ignition interlock laws. But a recent Iowan drunk driving incident makes a stunning and terrifying point, especially about expanding Iowa ignition interlock device access.

Leon Kurt Shivers’ long and troubled history of drunken driving in Iowa encompasses nine arrests over more than two decades. Yet Shivers, 46, served at most nine months total behind bars on those charges before the night of April 4, 2016. That night,  he barreled through a stop sign at more than 70 mph and slammed into a minivan, fatally injuring the driver. Shivers’ court record and sentences reflect what some victims’ families say is Iowa’s inability to deal with repeat drunken drivers.

Iowa isn’t as aggressive as other states at treating and monitoring drunken drivers or at taking into account how many times they have been convicted of repeatedly driving drunk. The most severe intoxicated driving charge in Iowa is OWI-third offense, no matter whether it’s a driver’s third charge or 10th, and the penalty is no more than five years in prison. By expanding Iowa ignition interlock access, we are all supporting better decisions, even before heading out for a night of drinking. We are supporting second chances, too, allowing offenders the ability to keep driving, as long as an interlock is installed. Plus, we are supporting law enforcement officers who are on the front line against drunk drivers… literally.

Shivers’ drunken driving record in Iowa includes:

  • Court records in Benton, Black Hawk, Chickasaw, Linn, Johnson, Story and Webster counties.
  • Six OWI convictions plus last year’s conviction of vehicular homicide while intoxicated.
  • Two OWI charges were reduced in plea deals.

Since 2005, more than 1,100 people have been killed in alcohol-related traffic crashes in Iowa, according to state Department of Public Safety data. That’s an average of more than 90 deaths a year. Nearly one-third of the drivers charged with vehicular homicide while intoxicated in those fatal crashes are repeat drunk drivers.

Take action and support ignition interlock expansion in Iowa. Contact your state lawmakers today and let your opinion be heard!

Iowa Ignition Interlock Expansion Moves Forward

Iowa ignition interlock expansion Say you want about progressive legislation, when it comes to preventing drunk driving, the more forward-thinking a law is, the safer we all become. Iowa has been behind the curve with OWI laws, gaining a reputation that is less than chivalrous. But it seems the state is now determined to beat the profile of the GenX, Midwestern, basic OWI guy. This year, a bill has been introduced (and passed in the Iowa Senate) to expand Iowa ignition interlock device eligibility for all OWI offenders.

The Iowa ignition interlock expansion couldn’t come any sooner, as statistics show that the state has more of a problem than Florida. FLORIDA. In MADD’s recent report that looks at state-by-state ignition interlock effectiveness, Iowa has the fourth highest number of DUIs prevented by interlocks in the last year, just behind California, Texas, and Wisconsin. Those DUIs in the report don’t even take into consideration attempts to drive with a lower BAC limit, where most ignition interlock devices step in and prevent driving when a BAC measures between .02 – .03 percent, typically.

If the bill passes both legislative bodies and is signed by the Governor, Iowa will be the 29th state to enact an all-offender IID requirement. Texas expanded interlock devices last year, as did California (but the statewide law won’t go into effect until 2018). Wisconsin is also looking at expanding interlock access this year.

The value of an ignition interlock is the prevention of 2.4 million DUI attempts over the last decade, as well as seven to 15 percent of DUI traffic fatalities in the U.S. in the last year, there’s no legislation progressive enough (or fast enough) to get Iowa up to speed on safer roads.

Take action! Show your support for Iowa ignition interlock expansion. Contact your state legislators today to support their votes for ignition interlock expansion across Iowa.

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