OWI Elements

OWI or Operating While Intoxicated is often associated solely with drunk driving. The reality is that OWI encompasses more than drunk driving. OWI includes drugged driving as well. The elements of OWI in Iowa are relatively straight forward.

OPERATING ELEMENT

In every OWI case the State must prove that the Defendant was "operating" a motor vehicle. Of course, operating does not necessarily mean driving. Iowa Courts have held that people parked with their keys in the ignition or nearby are "operating" for purposes of the OWI laws.

THE DRUNK AND/OR DRUGGED ELEMENTS

In addition to "operating" the State must prove one of the following occurred at the time of operation:

1. The Defendant was under the influence of alcohol and/or a drug (any drug, illegal, prescription or over the counter)

2. The Defendant has an alcohol concentration of .08 or greater

3. The Defendant had any amount of a controlled substance in their system

UNDER THE INFLUENCE

A person is under the influence when consumption of alcohol, a drug, or a combination of alcohol and a drug causes any one of the following:

  • Visibly excited emotions
  • Impaired judgment
  • Loss of control of bodily actions or movements
  • Mental ability is affected

DRUG v. CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE

A drug is any drug whether illegal, prescribed or over the counter. A controlled substance is generally any illegal or prescribed drug.

.08 STANDARD

The .08 standard is measured using a sample of breath, blood or urine. Under Iowa law all specimens are admissible in court.

AMOUNT OF CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE

Any amount of controlled substance means literally, any amount. If you smoked pot 30 days ago and a little is left in your system, you are considered OWI under Iowa law.