Some states call driving under the influence DUI, but Iowa calls it OWI, or “operating while intoxicated.” Drivers in West Des Moines, Iowa, may face several stiff penalties and fines, but they can challenge the charges with some valid defenses.
Overview of OWI in Iowa
OWI laws in Iowa make operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, drugs or a combination of the two illegal. The driver is presumed to be under the influence when they test .08 on a chemical test and under any amount of a controlled substance. Commercial drivers have a BAC limit of .04, and minors under 21 cannot register above .02 under Zero Tolerance Laws.
Refusal to submit to chemical testing could include an immediate license suspension for one year under implied consent. Implied consent laws state a driver agrees to undergo chemical testing by having a license when an officer suspects OWI.
Defenses to drunk driving
An officer needs reasonable suspicion to stop a driver to investigate them for OUI, such as excessive speeding. They also need probable cause to make an arrest, which includes evidence of drunk driving from observations or testing. If the officer omits one or both of these elements, the case could get dismissed, or charges could be reduced.
Sometimes, breathalyzers are not accurate, and the defense can subpoena records to check calibration. Calibration checks the device for accuracy, which the police are required to do periodically, or it could give skewed results. Some health conditions that produce ketones, substances that have alcoholic properties, such as diabetes and GERD.
A less common defense is duress, meaning the driver felt threatened and acted against their best logic to avoid harm. A driver may be able to claim no knowledge if they can prove someone spiked their drink without them knowing.
Drivers face many consequences for drunk driving, but officers aren’t always right. Drivers can call in witnesses who saw everything to cause some doubt.