The Smith Law Firm, PC

DUI Defense FAQs


Q: How Exactly Is An OWI Defined In Iowa?
A: DUI’s in Iowa are listed under section 321J of the Iowa Criminal Code. Operating While Intoxicated is defined as: A person commits the offense of Operating While Intoxicated if the person operates a motor vehicle in this state in any of the following conditions: a. While under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or other drug or a combination of such substances. b. While having an alcohol concentration of .08 or more. c. While any amount of a controlled substance is present in the person, as measured in the person’s blood or urine. To “operate” a motor vehicle all that is required is the immediate, actual physical control over a motor vehicle that is in motion and/or has its engine running. I often get asked if you can be guilty of DUI because you weren’t driving but the engine was running. The answer is YES.
Q: What Are The Top Misconceptions People Have About Being Arrested For A DUI?
A: One big misconception as mentioned above is that you don’t have to be driving a car to be guilty of DUI. You only have to be operating the car. The courts have interpreted this to mean that only the engine needs to be running while you’re in the driver’s seat or otherwise in control of the car. Another misconception is that you must take the field sobriety tests when asked by the police. You never have to take these tests and in fact, these so called sobriety tests are designed so people who are totally sober many times cannot pass these tests.
Q: What Are Some Common Mistakes People Make That Are Detrimental To Their DUI Case?
A: One of the biggest mistakes people make before they’re arrested and after is self-incrimination. Most people naturally want to explain themselves when stopped by the police and try to talk their way out of the situation. That is probably the worst thing to try and do. For example, people will often admit to having only a few or 2 or 3 drinks and later admit to having 4 or 5 drinks without. This type of self-incrimination can greatly hurt ones case.
Q: Why Is It Not Advisable To Plead Guilty To A DUI Charge?
A: While it is not necessarily bad to plead guilty you must not blindly plead guilty without knowing the consequences of pleading guilty. You must thoroughly evaluate your case and determine the best possible outcome taking all factors into consideration. Often times there are collateral consequences from pleading guilty. For example, if you plead guilty to an DUI, while having two prior DUI convictions, you could be convicted of a felony level offense. Such outcome can have very serious consequences. You should always consult a competent defense attorney before pleading guilty to an DUI charge.
Q: Can You Give A Brief Outline Of The DUI Process From The Moment Someone Is Pulled Over?
A: Once you are pulled over for suspicion of DUI the officer will likely ask you for a copy of your driver’s license, insurance and registration cards. He or she will pay attention to how your retrieve these documents as they are divided attention tests and if you have difficulty retrieving these documents, he or she may suspect you’ve been drinking. At this point, you’ll probably be asked how much you had to drink. Next, the officer will ask you to step out of your car to do so-called field sobriety tests. Typically, the officer will state that they want you to do these tests so they can be assured you can safely drive your car home. In actuality, they are looking for clues or evidence of intoxication.

It’s very rare that once you’ve agreed to undergo the so-called field sobriety tests that you’ll be permitted to drive away. Usually after field sobriety tests are conducted, the officer will request a preliminary breath test and thereafter will likely arrest for suspicion of DUI. Once at the police station the office will invoke implied consent (process by which the officer will request a specimen to determine your body’s level of alcohol). You will be permitted to make a phone call to an attorney or family prior to making a decision regarding implied consent. After the breath or blood test you’ll be transported to the jail for booking and processing.

There are many nuances in the investigation and arrest stage of an DUI case. You should always try and speak with an attorney before agreeing to any of these procedures.

Q: Is The Driver’s License Immediately Taken After A DUI Arrest?
A: Whether your license is immediately taken just depends on what state you’re arrested in and what state issued your license. If you have an Iowa Driver’s license, your license will be confiscated at the time of arrest in Iowa. You will have 10 days from the arrest date to drive before your license will be suspended unless you appeal that suspension. Additionally, you may be eligible for a temporary work or school license depending on your situation and if you’ve met all the requirements to obtain a temporary license.
Q: What Happens If Someone Refuses A Blood Or Breath Test?
A: If a person refuses the request for a breath or blood specimen after arrest, there may be enhanced license revocation and other penalties depending on your state. You should contact an attorney before you accept or refuse a breath or blood test.
Q: What Is An Ignition Interlock Device?
A: An ignition interlock device sometimes called a breath alcohol ignition interlock device is breathalyzer for a person’s car. It requires the driver to blow into the mouthpiece on the device before starting the vehicle. If the resultant breath-alcohol concentration analyzed result is greater than the programmed blood alcohol concentration, the engine will not start. In most situations, if you have been convicted of DUI, you will have to install an ignition interlock device. There are situations where one will not have to install such a device. You should consult a local criminal defense attorney to better understand when an ignition interlock device will be required.
Q: What Factors Will Enhance Or Aggravate A DUI Charge?
A: There are many factors that can aggravate or enhance a DUI charge. One of the most important factors is prior convictions for DUI. If you have prior convictions for DUI, what may seem like a routine DUI charge, can in many cases be enhanced to a felony level charge. Additionally, if you are in an accident and cause injury a charge may be able to be enhanced. Please contact a local criminal defense attorney to learn when and how DUI charges are enhanced.
Q: What Are The Penalties Associated With A DUI Conviction?
A: For a first offense DUI the maximum sentence is one year in the county jail and a fine of $1,250 plus surcharges and costs. The minimum sentence is a 48 hours jail sentence, $1250 fine, surcharge, costs. The maximum penalties for a 2nd offense DUI are a two year jail sentence, $6250 fine, surcharges/costs. The minimum sentence for a 2nd offense DUI is a 7 day jail sentence, $1875 fine, surcharge/costs. A 3rd offense DUI carries a maximum penalty of a five year jail sentence, $9375 fine, surcharge/costs. The minimum penalty for a third offense is a thirty-day jail sentence, $3125 fine, surcharge/costs. A 3rd offense DUI is a felony offense. With all DUI convictions one must undergo an alcohol assessment and complete an approved course for drinking drivers.
Q: Are There Any Alternative Punishments Available To First Time DUI Offenders?
A: There is not really a diversion program for DUI cases in Iowa if you’re an adult. However, one may qualify for a deferred adjudication if you meet certain requirements.
Q: What Sets Your Firm Apart In Handling DUI Cases?
A: We have handled hundreds of DUI cases. We look at each case individually and plan a strategy with minimal exposure to our clients keeping in mind that many times the ability to maintain a valid driver’s license is key to a successful resolution of a case.

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