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.
Strategies for defending against OWI
Officers are required to follow strict rules during an OWI investigation. When they make mistakes, you could potentially receive reduced or dismissed charges. An experienced OWI defense attorney detects errors in these areas:
- Unjustified stops: Officers must have a valid reason to stop you, such as speeding or other traffic offenses, broken taillights or other equipment issues or tips from witnesses. They can’t stop you just because a they have a “hunch.”
- Field sobriety tests: These tests are the bedrock of a prosecutor’s case. However, they are not always accurate. Many studies show unimpaired people frequently fail these tests as do people taking prescription medications, or those with vertigo or even excessive fatigue.
- Breathalyzers: Breath tests, which purport to measure blood alcohol content are often flawed. Courts have thrown out thousands of cases across the country due to improperly calibrated devices or officers without the necessary training to administer them.
- Probable cause: Just as an officer must have a legitimate reason to stop you in the first place, they must also explain why they believe you have committed a crime and that you are under arrest. They must inform you of your rights, including contacting an attorney.
Take prompt action after an arrest
If charged with an OWI, it’s vital to take immediate steps for your defense. In addition to contacting a knowledgeable defense attorney, avoid making any statements to an officer that might incriminate you unless you first speak to a lawyer and take comprehensive notes during and after the incident.
OWI charges and convictions can be devastating for your personal and professional life and have the potential for causing significant financial repercussions. Your attorney will guide you through the process to know what to expect and lay the groundwork for the best possible outcome.