Recently on our DUI website a user asked, I received my first Iowa OWI charge. I have heard some information about a potential program that may allow me to plead guilty to the charge, fulfill some requirements and potentially not have the charge show up on my criminal record. Can you tell me more information about the Iowa Deferred Judgment program and whether or not I might qualify?
OWI in Iowa
Like other states, Iowa has very strong laws against operating a motorized vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Iowa law states that drivers may be arrested for an OWI if they are operating a vehicle while under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or other drug or a combination of such substances, operating a vehicle while having an blood alcohol concentration of .08 or more, or operating a vehicle while having any amount of a controlled substance in ones body.
Deferred Judgment for Iowa OWI
Unlike other states, however, Iowa laws do allow some drivers to participate in what is called a deferred judgment program. If you live in any county in Iowa, including Polk County and Dallas County, or any other city in the State of Iowa, including Des Moines, West Des Moines, Ankeny, Johnston, Urbandale or Altoona, talk to a lawyer immediately if you have been charged with an OWI and see if you might qualify for the deferred judgment program.
How does deferred judgment in Iowa work?
First, its important to understand that not all drivers who are charged with an OWI will qualify for the deferred judgment program. To qualify you must submit to the DUI chemical test at the time of your arrest, you blood alcohol concentration must be less than 0.15%, you cannot have caused any type of bodily injury to another person due to your DUI, and you cannot have any prior deferred judgments (including deferred actions in another state).
Assuming drivers meet the qualifications outlined above, they may qualify for the Iowa deferred judgment program if they are willing to plead guilty to the OWI charges and they meet certain conditions the court imposes within a specified time limit.
Assuming the conditions are met and the charges are dropped by the state, drivers may not have to serve the mandatory minimum sentences for their first OWI charge. For example, they may be allowed to avoid the minimum 48 hours in jail.
What conditions will the state impose for the deferred judgment program?
The deferred judgment period is generally one year. During this period of time the driver must meet certain requirements. Requirements can include mandatory attendance in an alcohol education classes approved by the Iowa Department of Transportation, payment of court costs and evaluation fees, and visitation with a probation officer. The state will also suspend the drivers license for a specific period of time.
Benefits of the Iowa Deferred Judgment program
The greatest benefit of the Iowa Deferred program is that drivers may be able to avoid having an OWI conviction on their criminal record. The downside, however, is that if you fail to meet the requirements of the program you will be automatically convicted of the charge because you have already pled guilty.
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