Drinking and driving is dangerous, putting lives at risk on the road each day. Currently, all states in the U.S. have some type of car breathalyzer (ignition interlock) requirement for a DUI, DWI or OWI offense. Iowa is one of 28 states that have adopted all-offender ignition interlock requirements, meaning that even a first time Iowa OWI will lead to an interlock installation. Iowa takes things a step further, requiring an interlock even if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is at zero.
The legal BAC limit in the U.S. is .08 percent, so how can Iowa require an interlock for a zero BAC?
Iowa’s law says that an OWI (operating while intoxicated) offense is not just about having a few too many happy hour drinks. An Iowa OWI can also refer to a person who is intoxicated by legal or illegal drugs, including over-the-counter medications like cough syrup. Essentially, if you are unable to safely drive because of any type of substance, you can be found guilty of an OWI. An Iowa OWI means you’ll have an ignition interlock requirement, according to the law, even if you never, ever drink alcohol.
To drive home that point, if you have any type of Iowa OWI and don’t install an interlock, you’ve got even more trouble ahead. By not installing the device, you’re looking at a longer driver’s license suspension period. If you’re caught driving on a suspended license without the required interlock, you’ve got a $1,500 fine ahead of you. If you’re intoxicated and driving on a suspended license without an ignition interlock… you probably have a lot more than trouble in your future.
Even if your Iowa OWI is not alcohol-related, you need to make sure you follow the guidelines of your conviction, even if that means you have an ignition interlock device to contend with. It’s a reminder of your commitment to safer driving, no matter the circumstances or substances you may encounter.