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What are the legal consequences for underage drunk drivers? 

On Behalf of | May 3, 2023 | Drunk Driving |

Drunk driving offenses are treated seriously by courts across America. The possible ramifications of being over the limit while behind the wheel mean prosecutors often ask the judge for harsh penalties to be awarded. 

For those who are drunk driving in Iowa while under the legal drinking age of 21, the penalties are even more serious.

Iowa has a Zero Tolerance Law for underage drunk driving

The standard rule for drivers is that they must have a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of less than 0.08% if they’re operating a vehicle. For drivers under the age of 21, however, this is reduced even further to 0.02%. 

This is referred to as the Zero Tolerance Law and means, therefore, that drivers under the legal drinking age are not permitted to drink any alcohol before driving a vehicle. 

Penalties for an OWI while underage

So, what are the consequences if you’re found to be operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (OWI) and are under the age of 21? You are likely to be subject to the following penalties where a test indicates you have a BAC of more than 0.02% but less than 0.08%: 

  • Revocation of your driving license for 60 days (increased to 90 days for a second offense) 
  • Refusing to take a test can result in revocation of your driving license for one year (two years for those with a previous revocation) 
  • 48 hours to one year in jail 
  • A fine of between $625 to $1,250 
  • A period of probation 
  • Mandatory participation in a substance abuse prevention program (if this is deemed appropriate) 

For first-time offenders, it may be possible to participate in the Deferred Judgment Program. Eligible participants will be required to comply with a number of conditions including probation and completion of a treatment program. At the conclusion of the program, the charge will then be dismissed. 

Facing a conviction for drunk driving while underage is a worrying time and can have lasting consequences. Making sure you have legal help from the outset is the best way to put forward your defense and allow you to move forward. 

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