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Cedar Rapids OWI Lawyer: What penalties should I expect in an OWI-2nd Offense Conviction?

by David A. Cmelik Law PLC


​A second offense OWI conviction brings greater consequences than a first time OWI in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A now-retired judge once told me, “anybody can get popped for drunk driving once” but added during that conversation about a client getting a deal on a first time drunk driving offense that “tell your client I don’t want to see him back here again on this or any other kind of charge.” I relayed the message. It’s an important one that bears repeating.


First offense drunk driving in the State of Iowa has become a bit of a status crime, not requiring a guilty mind (“mens rea”) and not requiring all that much intoxication. The presumptive legal standard for intoxication in the State of Iowa is .08 grams ETOH per 210 L breath. Conventional wisdom suggests that .08 BrAC is evidence of at least four drinks consumed in the previous hour or, in the alternative, the metabolization of all but four drinks and the presence of alcohol in the bloodstream equivalent to the consumption of four drinks in a given hour.


When they’re talking about drinks, they’re talking about a 12 ounce beer, eight ounces of wine, or an ounce and a half of 80 proof liquor.


Many people suggest to Officer Friendly that they have had only a “couple” drinks or “one or two” when we’re talking about much larger portions than those that are used to calculate blood alcohol content.


In any case, a second offense OWI follows the education of a first time OWI within 12 years. Neither the prosecutor nor the judge is typically as understanding as they are in a first time OWI situation and the Legislature reflects public policy rendering this offense more serious than the first.


Fines range from $1875 to $6250 plus applicable surcharges, costs, and fees. There is a mandatory minimum seven days required in jail and there is a maximum two year prison sentence. The sentencing judge cannot suspended the minimum sentence and has the power to impose a sentence greater than the minimum and within the legal range.


Pretrial release conditions typically require a substance abuse evaluation and no defendant can be sentenced in an OWI-2nd unless he or she has obtained a bona fide substance abuse evaluation.


If you or a loved one has been arrested for OWI in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Waterloo, or other Iowa community, contact David A. Cmelik Law PLC, for an initial consultation today. However, remember that a blog is not legal advice and that no attorney-client relationship is established by sending unsolicited information to an attorney over the Internet.


If there's smoke there's fire? Prosecutors and judges generally consider a second offense drunk driving arrest to be a signal of a bigger substance abuse problem. They will require the defendant to obtain a substance abuse evaluation as part of any pretrial release conditions and the Legislature, as a matter of public policy, will require such an evaluation before an OWI-2nd can be disposed with anything other than a jury acquittal, e.g., any sentencing. An OWI-2nd is shown to be more serious than a first time OWI in Iowa because it is an aggravated misdemeanor, up one notch from a first offense, and down one notch from a Class "D" felony. It is punishable by fines ranging from $1875 to $6250 and requires a minimum seven day jail sentence with a maximum prison sentence of two years. ​Hire an experienced Iowa-licensed attorney limited exclusively to the practice of criminal law to represent you in a second offense drunk driving prosecution. And chart your way back to life before legal crisis. Contact David A. Cmelik Law PLC at 319-389-1889.

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