MADD’s annual report gave Iowa a pretty unfavorable rating for the state’s OWI prevention efforts: two stars out of five. Granted there are states with even fewer stars, Iowa needs to get a few things in line to increase its MADD rating, like providing sobriety checkpoints and expanding ignition interlock access for all drunk driving offenders.
Until that happens, we want to focus on what the state is doing right, like the Iowa OWI felony law and 12-year lookback period.
Correctly counting the number of drunk driving offenses against a person is vital for ensuring they are faced with the appropriate consequences for their actions. In some states the lookback period for drunk driving is just a few years so there’s no chance of a felony conviction until there are almost 10 convictions on a person’s record. Iowa OWI law has a Class D felony for the third offense that occurs within a 12-year lookback period. Both of those points are what has securely landed Iowa with its two-star MADD rating, along with additional penalties for endangering a child during the course of a drunk driving incident.
According to a survey by alcoholic.org, the typical drunk driver is a Gen X Midwestern man, also known as an Iowan. By increasing penalties, fewer people could fall into that drunk driver profile and send signals to similar states like Wisconsin that laws need to reflect similar dangers on the roads.
No state is perfect when it comes to drunk driving prevention, but all states can take steps to ensure they’re closing loopholes and making it clear that OWIs are no longer tolerated. Each year, MADD releases a review of each state’s drunk driving prevention efforts. We look forward to seeing all of the good work done in 2017 to prevent more Iowa OWI destruction.