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How much does an OWI cost in Iowa?

On Behalf of | Feb 9, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

Charges for operating a vehicle while under the influence often come with pain and embarrassment. They can also have significant financial impacts.

Anyone facing a possible conviction for an OWI should be aware of the many potential costs.

Iowa’s penalties for an OWI

Iowa defines an OWI offense as when a person operates a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance. If the blood-alcohol concentration reaches or exceeds .08, a driver is also legally over the acceptable limit.

In addition to possible imprisonment and license revocation, the fines are as follows:

  • The first offense brings a minimum fine of $625, but it may reach $1,250
  • A second offense raises the range of the fine from $1,875 to $6,250
  • Fines for the third offense are from anywhere between $3,125 and $9,354

The judge can also levy emergency response restitution. The defendant would have to pay $500 for each agency of first responders that came to the scene, such as police, ambulances and firefighters.

Also, officers might impound the vehicle after an OWI, and the cost can reach $25 per day. Plus, law enforcement agencies can impose a further fee for retrieving the vehicle.

After an offense, a person who seeks a temporary restrictive license must pay for the installation of an ignition interlock device. Depending on which IID a person uses, installation starts at $100 and can go up to $200. The user also pays a fee for the use of the device, which ranges from $60 to $100 a month.

Additional costs and lost opportunities

An OWI brings other consequences that have a financial impact. For example, while not a fine, someone who gets an OWI conviction could also anticipate a 64.6% increase in annual premiums in Iowa, according to MoneyGeek’s research.

Furthermore, license revocation or restrictions with an IID can impact career prospects. Anyone who drives for a living could lose that job and have trouble finding something similar.

Many other careers require a clean driving record or no felonies to maintain a professional license. Working in transportation, education, law enforcement or health care could become difficult, if not impossible. An OWI could also be a negative factor during a background check for any job.

Truly, an OWI can be costly. Defendants do not have to simply accept the charges, though. A strong case and effective bargaining could help the accused reduce penalties for a less punitive sentence or even a case dismissal.

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