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West Des Moines Iowa Criminal Defense Law Blog

What are common OWI defenses in Iowa?

Operating a motor vehicle under the influence (OWI) of alcohol or drug charges and convictions in Iowa can have a devastating impact on a person's life, even for a first offense. If arrested, you face a criminal case over the OWI charge and a civil matter involving your driver's license.

A person accused of OWI will likely spend a great deal of time dealing with the court system while paying fees - even before a verdict is issued if the case goes to trial. Much of what you face is determined by the officer who pulls you over.

Your metabolic rate affects how drunk you get

Everyone has seen the one guy at the bar who seems to be able to toss back beers and shots, then get up and walk a straight line. Then there are others who get tipsy and lightheaded from a single glass of wine. How is that possible?

It could have to due with the rate that their bodies are able to metabolize alcohol. Below is some information on how an individual's metabolic rate could affect their likelihood of facing OWI charges.

Can I be charged with an OWI while taking prescription drugs?

Though prescription drugs are essential for many Iowa residents, they can lead to dangerous situations on the road if they are not taken properly.

Iowa law treats prescription drugs the same as other controlled substances, including marijuana and cocaine. Driving with any amount of drugs in your system, whether legally prescribed or obtained illegally, could result in an arrest for suspicion of OWI. 

Speak up to stay quiet: asserting your right to remain silent

We've all seen movies and television shows where a person is arrested and is told, "You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law." This line is not just used for dramatic effect in these films. You do have a right to remain silent. However, you must take actual steps to assert this right. 

More people released after drug field tests proven wrong

Sometimes, all it takes is an accusation. If you're accused of a serious crime, you may be assigned bail that you can't afford. If you can't afford bail, you could be stuck in jail for days or months. You could lose your job, your housing, your child custody rights. You might decide just to plead guilty and get it over with, especially if the prosecution offers you a deal.

But what if you know you're innocent? For example, what if a police officer told you that a white powder in your car was cocaine but you knew that it was laundry detergent? There could be any number of explanations, but the field tests cops use to gauge whether unknown substances are illegal can easily be wrong.

Will judges and juries be able to identify deepfake evidence?

A deepfake video uses artificial intelligence to alter an image so that it appears to be someone else, or say something else, or depict someone doing something other than what they really were. Done with care, a deepfake can show almost anything you like, and it can be virtually impossible for the naked eye to recognize the illusion.

Even when done relatively poorly using commercially available software, a deepfake can be convincing. These have been used against politicians and celebrities in order to make them appear to be saying unpopular things or simply slowed down to make the person seem unsophisticated.

Major poll says 94% of Americans want criminal justice reform

Weeks of nationwide and global demonstrations after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis have had their effect, according to a new AP-NORC poll. The vast majority of Americans now see the need for criminal justice reform. And, a large majority (69%) now says that the system needs either a complete overhaul or major changes.

Black people were still more likely than whites to say so, and to emphasize the need for significant changes. For example, 92% of Black respondents said the criminal justice system needs a complete overhaul or major changes, while only 65% of white respondents said so.

How much does it cost to collect all those court fines and fees?

Is assessing fines and fees an effective way to administrate justice? Does doing so result in less crime? Lower recidivism rates? Or does it come down unfairly on the poor? Should communities pay for part of their court administration costs with fines and fees? What does it mean when our justice system is partially a collection agency?

These are all important questions with no easy answers. The independent, nonpartisan think tank the Brennan Center for Justice, which is affiliated with New York University School of Law, has been looking at the issues. Although very little official information is available directly from courts, the center was able to perform an illuminating analysis of one aspect of the use of court fines and fees. How much does it cost jurisdictions to assess and collect those fines and fees?

Misdemeanors make up 80% of all state court dockets

In the wake of the national and international protests over police brutality, especially towards people of color, more attention is being paid to how people of color enter the criminal justice system. One of the major ways is through a low-level misdemeanor offense.

In fact, most state courts are flooded with misdemeanor cases. They account for 80% of all arrests and 80% of state criminal dockets.

Motorists should question the credibility of field sobriety tests

Motorists coming home from the bar may feel anxious if police stop them. In some cases, it doesn't matter if you're not impaired or below the legal limit; an officer may still choose to charge you with an OWI.

Many have started to question how authorities determine someone "too drunk to drive." As the use of breathalyzers have come under scrutiny in recent years, so have field sobriety tests.

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