• David A. Cmelik Law PLC

Cedar Rapids Criminal Lawyer: First 10 days crucial to steer DUI


Classic car dashboard
Cedar Rapids DUI lawyer David A. Cmelik Law PLC says, "DUI can steal your driving mojo," adding, "Defendants should act in the first 10 days to steer it."

The first ten days after a Cedar Rapids DUI—called Operating While Intoxicated, or, OWI, in Iowa—are crucial to determine your best options when seeking an appeal of the revocation and, independently, whether you will seek a temporary restricted license to overlap with the 10 day notice and grace before revocation takes effect.


The investigating officer will seize an Iowa driver's license from an OWI test subject and shred it or send it back to the Iowa DOT upon a test failure or refusal. If you have an out of state license, while the officer cannot seize it, you may not drive in Iowa and the Iowa DOT will make efforts to notify the issuing state under what is called an "interstate compact," or, treaty among the states to request revocation in the issuing state.


In Iowa, a drunk driving investigation typically results in 3 breath tests: a preliminary breath screen, an evidentiary Datamaster DMT breath test, and, if arrested, a test to ensure sobriety prior to release. Even though there are sometimes three such breath tests, the evidentiary breath test in the middle requires an advisory that places before you the hard choice of either consenting to an evidentiary breath test or refusing. If you consent and provide a breath test positive for greater than .08 g ETOH/210 L breath—or, in the alternative, if you refuse—your noncommercial privilege to operate a motor vehicle in the State of Iowa will be revoked on a first offense for 180 days for a test failure and twice that long for a test refusal. Subsequent revocations will be longer.


The administering officer will hand to you an Iowa DOT notice of revocation that gets mixed in with a fistful of other paperwork that is thrust in your direction as you are released from the jail. It’s important not to lose that piece of paper because it typically serves as your license for 10 days before the revocation takes effect. It is also emblematic of some important decisions in the early days of an OWI ordeal.


You have some important decisions to make. First, should you decide to appeal the DOT revocation and request an administrative telephone hearing before the Iowa Department of Inspections and Appeals Hearings Division in Des Moines, you must do that within 10 days of your notice of revocation or lose the right forever. Because this requirement has nothing to do with the criminal prosecution, no judge in your criminal prosecution will tell you this. Discussing this option with an attorney limited exclusively to criminal and DUI law is, in our opinion, key to understanding and making this choice.


If you decide to seek an appeal, you will need to decide whether you will do so without a stay, or, temporary or provisional hold of the revocation while the appeal is pending. If you decide to pursue an appeal without a stay-- or not to pursue an appeal at all-- your privilege to operate a motor vehicle will be revoked 10 days after this notice of revocation.


Now you need to decide whether to seek and obtain a temporary restricted license. If you intended to seek a temporary restricted license either without a appeal stay or without an appeal, those 10 days will also be crucial to pay the necessary $200 Iowa DOT civil penalty, have installed in your vehicle an approved, certified ignition interlock device, obtain SR22 high risk insurance, and obtain an appointment with the Iowa DOT Driver’s License Station to provide these materials to a DOT Driver Services officer to obtain your temporary restrictive license, or, TRL.


Some, but not all, OWI defendants obtain a TRL within the 10 day notice to provide the necessary overlap before the 10 day grace period expires. Others decide to forego the TRL but seek the provisional stop or “stay” of the sanction when they appeal the Iowa DOT revocation appeal, which allows them to drive without a TRL, ignition interlock, and SR22 insurance only during the pendency of their administrative appeal.


However, here is a warning to those seeking a provisional stay of the revocation during the appeal: If you lose, none of the time in which you are allowed to drive on the stay will count toward the revocation upon resumption after an unsuccessful appeal. It will be as if the clock has stopped for that period of time and then resumed if and when all administrative appeals are exhausted.


The first ten days after a Cedar Rapids DUI—called Operating While Intoxicated, or, OWI, in Iowa—are crucial to determine your best options when either seeking an appeal of the revocation of your privilege to operate a motor vehicle and, independently, whether you will seek a temporary restricted license with the 10 day notice and grace before revocation takes effect.


If you or a loved one have been arrested for Operating While Intoxicated, or, OWI, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, or other Iowa Community, contact us for a free initial consultation. Let us present to you all of your options so that you can choose the best among them. Criminal law and DUI defense is all we do. Contact us today.