Most people think an OWI is when a person drinks way too much alcohol and then goes out and drives on a public highway. Although true, there are many other ways a person can be convicted of an OWI in Iowa. First off, a person commits the offense of OWI if he or she operates a motor-vehicle anywhere in this state while having any amount of a controlled substance in their system, as measured in the person's blood or urine.
A fair amount of people do not know that it is illegal to be driving while there is a controlled substance in their system. It should be importantly noted that this must be measured in the person's blood or urine. As we are well aware there are many members of the community driving each day with a controlled substance in their system. . .Officers generally give the driver the benefit of the doubt if they appear to be in their right mind, but you should know that you can be charged, and convicted, of an OWI if you have a controlled substance in your system while operating a motor-vehicle.
In regard to driving with a controlled substance in your system, there is the prescription drug defense. This says that if the substance presence in the person's system was prescribed by a doctor or dispensed by a pharmacist without a prescription pursuant to the rules of the board of pharmacy and the person was not directed by the doctor/pharmacist to not drive, then this can be used as a defense to an OWI. It should be noted that if the person uses this defense, there cannot be alcohol found in their system.
Another interesting fact about OWI's is that a person can refuse the blood test upon the request of an officer. If the officer requests a blood test and it is refused, then the officer must offer either a breath or urine test. This can play crucial in an OWI proceeding in whether a person can receive a deferred judgment. It should be noted that a deferred judgment allows for the OWI to be dismissed off of your record.
The best tip I can give you though is to make sure you request to speak to an attorney while you are at the police station. It makes the difference in whether or not you can beat your OWI. I see it too many times where people rush to finish the process without knowing all of their rights and what the officer is really trying to do while you are at the police station. Do not be afraid to tell the officer that you want to speak to a couple attorneys before making your decision to blow or not (or take the urine test).
Lastly, it should be mentioned that if the officer does everything right, there may not be a way to "win" the OWI. There are a lot of errors made in a fair majority of OWI's but sometimes the officer does everything right. If this is the case, it is usually best to work out a deal with the county attorney to minimize your sentence. It is impossible to know though whether the officer has made any mistakes until an OWI defense attorney gets to watch the dashcam and bodycam video of the stop and testing. When I meet with client I sometimes think, "well, they probably have a loser" but then I watch the video and see a bunch of mistakes made by the officer and we end up getting the OWI dismissed. Simply put, it is next to impossible for a defense attorney to tell you if you have a winner or loser during an initial consultation without seeing the videos. I do not like to beat around the bush with my clients and give them false hopes.
Should you have any other questions regarding Iowa OWIs, do not hesitate to call the Feld Law Firm to schedule a free consultation. An OWI defense attorney would be happy to discuss your situation with you and point you in the right direction. The Feld Law Firm is located at 1200 Valley West Drive, Ste. 208 in West Des Moines, Iowa.