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  • Writer's pictureDavid A. Cmelik Law PLC

Is your license suspended immediately after an OWI in Iowa?

Your privilege to operate a motor vehicle is revoked—not necessarily your license itself. Moreover, a valid Iowa driver's license is revoked administratively pursuant to an OWI investigation before a conviction only under specific circumstances. If you present an out of state license when you are investigated and arrested for Operating While Intoxicated in the State of Iowa, law enforcement officers are not authorized to seize your out of state license. However, because of so-called reciprocity agreements, the Iowa DOT will mail the issuing state a letter requesting that they revoke the out of state license. The issuing state will decide how to respond.


If you present a valid Iowa driver’s license at the time of your investigation and arrest and you provide a breath test or refuse, your license may be administratively revoked if you test over the presumptive level of intoxication less the Datamaster DMT’s margin of error-- .004 g ETOH/210 L breath or five percent, whichever is greater.


If law enforcement asks for a blood or urine test, neither your privilege to operate a motor vehicle in the State of Iowa nor your driver’s license is likely to be revoked unless and until the bodily specimen is tested at the Iowa Department of Public Safety/Department of Criminal Investigation criminalistics laboratory—and only if the test result is above the presumptive level of intoxication for alcohol, considered .008 g ETOH/210 L breath—or any amount of illicit controlled substance is present or a combination of alcohol and controlled substances is present.

It is also important to note that suspensions and revocations are different. Your Iowa driver's license can be suspended for nonpayment of fines pursuant to Iowa Code 321.218. Your privilege to operate a motor vehicle in Iowa can be revoked pursuant to Iowa Code 321J.2. Moreover, your driver's license can be barred if you are considered an habitual offender of Iowa's driving safety laws. A driver can be simultaneously suspended, revoked, and barred, as they are all distinct Iowa DOT sanctions.


Revocation in an OWI investigation is not a one size fits all policy; it is dependent on your licensure status and issuing state as well as the nature of the testing and the results. Contact David A. Cmelik Law PLC for an initial consultation.


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