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Defending against your Iowa First Offense OWI 

If you are arrested for your first OWI in Iowa and do not bail out before the morning you will be brought before a judge or magistrate for an Initial Appearance. At the Initial Appearance, bail will be set if not set previously, you will be advised of your right to an attorney and a date will be set for a Preliminary Hearing. The Preliminary Hearing is a probable cause hearing where the state only needs to prove there’s probable cause to believe that a crime was committed. In Iowa the state can avoid the preliminary hearing by filing what’s called a Trial Information and Minutes of Testimony.

The Trial Information is a document that lays out the crime the state says you’ve committed and the Minutes of Testimony is the document that contains the probable cause the state says prove that you did in fact commit the crime outlined in the Trial Information. Once the Trial Information is filed a date will be set for your Arraignment. The Arraignment is an important element of criminal procedure. It prevents the state from holding defendants indefinitely without charging them. In fact, in Iowa the Trial Information and Minutes of Testimony must be filed within 45 days of arrest or the charges may be dismissed. This is commonly referred to as speedy indictment. At the Arraignment a Pretrial Conference date will be set. 

Following the Arraignment, and prior to the Pretrial Conference, a Motion to Produce is filed with the court. After the Motion is filed a judge will enter an Order that orders the state to provide the defendant or their attorney with all the evidence it has against the defendant.  It’s at this point the attorney will review the stop and subsequent request for a breath, urine or blood sample to determine if there were any constitutional violations or errors in the request. It will also be determined if there are questions for the officer and if depositions will need to be held. If there are constitutional violations or errors then a suppression motion will then be filed. If not you will typically proceed to the pretrial conference where plea discussions, the need for depositions or your intent to proceed to trial will be discussed. Following this hearing further pretrial conferences or a status conference will be set. These conferences are similar to the first pretrial conference with each subsequent hearing bringing you closer to trial.




  • Fine – $1,250.00
  • Surcharge – $437.50 (35% of Fine)
  • Court Costs – $100.00
  • Total $1,787.50


In Iowa there are two parts to driving under the influence charges

  • The first part of your OWI is the criminal side. In Iowa driving under the influence is defined as Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) under Iowa Code Section 321J.2. Operating while intoxicated first offense is a Serious Misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in the county jail, a minimum of 48 hours and a fine of $1,250.00, 35% surcharge and court costs. There are often other costs associated with driving under the influence such as a $300.00 probation fee, $375.00 operating while intoxicated weekend program, alcohol evaluation, and treatment costs. Under certain circumstances you may be eligible to have your fine cut in half.
  • The second part of your first OWI is the administrative side. In simple terms, it’s what is going to happen with your driver’s license. You have 10 days from the date of your arrest to file an appeal of your driver’s license suspension. If an appeal is timely filed your suspension will be stayed and an administrative hearing will be set. Prior to the hearing, you will have the ability to receive the evidence against you and at the hearing, you will have the ability to raise issues and question the arresting officer. Any constitutional violations may result in the dismissal of the suspension in which case you will not lose your driver’s license.

If a breath sample was provided, and there were no issues with the administration of the data master test, your license will be suspended for 180 days. If the breath sample was refused, and there were no issues with the procedure of the request, your license will be suspended for one year. In any event, assuming there are no other license issues, you are eligible for a Temporary Restricted License commonly referred to as a TRL. In order to be issued a temporary restricted license, you must obtain SR22 car insurance, install a breathalyzer, and pay a $200.00 civil reinstatement fee.

Questions about your OWI case? Contact Nick Lombardi Today!

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