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OWI penalties differ for first-time and repeat offenders

If you are facing your first drunk driving charge in Iowa, then the impact of your charge might be a lot different than someone that previously participated in an operating while intoxicated (OWI) stop.

State laws don’t overlook the danger that intoxicated drivers put others in. Instead, there are increased levels of penalties for repeat OWI offenders, or drivers caught behind the wheel with a blood alcohol concentration level at or above .08. This includes larger fines and lengthier imprisonment and license revocation periods.

Misdemeanor offenses

When a driver has a clean record as far as OWI charges go, they could still receive a misdemeanor charge. First-time offenders will likely spend two days to one year behind bars, pay a fine of up to $1,250 and face a license suspension period ranging from 180 days to one year.

The court views second-time OWI offenses as even weightier crimes and classifies them as aggravated misdemeanors. Consequently, there is even harsher penalties. Second-time offenders could look at a week to up to two years of prison, pay a fine of $1,875 to $6,250 and have their license revoked for one year.

Felony charge

When an individual commits a third or more OWI offense, the charge is no longer a misdemeanor. Third and subsequent charges are class “D” felonies, and the penalties are even more severe. Imprisonment for an individual charged with three or more OWIs could last 30 days to five years. The fine they may receive bumps up to a minimum of $3,125 to a maximum of $9,375. And one of the longest lasting effects a repeat OWI offender may face is a driver’s license revocation up to six years.

Even though you might ultimately be able to reinstate some driving privileges, it will also come at a cost. This may include a $200 fine, completion of a drunk driving course, treatment and evaluation for substance abuse, proof of SR-22 insurance and installation of an ignition interlock device.

Not having a license to drive or going to jail for a lengthy period can instantly alter your life. Building a criminal history can also have long-term effects on both your home and work life. Consider the full scope of drunk driving penalties the next time you are out drinking.