My license is from Illinois. My DUI is from Iowa…What now?

In Iowa City, as in many college towns, there are large populations attending school from neighboring states.  Iowa City, home of the University of Iowa, is the also temporary home for a large population of students from Illinois, and when those students face a charge of Operating While Intoxicated (OWI or DUI) in Iowa, they have special challenges in regard to their driving privileges.

When an Illinois resident gets an OWI or DUI in Iowa, Iowa has no jurisdiction to take away their license, but they do revoke their non-resident operating privileges.  Most Illinois residents have questions about what, if any, actions the Illinois Secretary of State will take once they have knowledge of the offense.  While our attorneys are not licensed in Illinois and cannot answer questions regarding Illinois law, Donald Ramsell of Ramsell & Associates has granted us permission to post this link to an article regarding the effects of an out of state OWI or DUI for Illinois residents.

The effects of an out of state OWI or DUI for Illinois residents  

This article addresses the length of license revocations for OWI or DUI convictions, Restricted Driving Permits in Illinois, and the conditions for reinstatement.  It’s designed to help Illinois residents prepare for the potential consequences of an OWI or DUI in another state.

Another concern for Illinois residents is how to lift the revocation of their non-resident operating privileges in Iowa once the revocation has been served.  The reinstatement requirements in Iowa for non-residents after a revocation are as follows:

  • Payment of a $200 civil penalty.
  • Proof of completion of a course for drinking drivers on file with the Iowa DOY.
  • Proof of completion of a substance abuse evaluation and treatment or rehabilitation services on file with the Iowa DOT.
  • Waiver of SR-22 financial liability insurance on file with the Iowa DOT.

This blog is not intended as legal advice. If you are an Illinois resident facing an OWI or DUI in Iowa, please contact Attorney J. Dean Keegan or Thomas D. S. Farnsworth for a free consultation.

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House File 2454 – changes for OWI driving sanctions are on the horizon

During the past legislative session, the Iowa Legislature passed a bill which contains some important changes concerning driving privileges and work permits for those accused of Operating While Intoxicated (OWI or DUI) in Iowa.

The most dramatic change affects Defendant’s facing a second offense OWI.  Currently under Iowa’s OWI law, a person accused of second offense OWI who took a breath test would face a year-long revocation of his or her driving privileges and during that time would not be eligible for a work permit.  If the person refused the breath test, the revocation would be two years and could not get a work permit in the first year.  While the revocation periods will remain the same, a Defendant who took a test will now be able to get a work permit after 45 days and for one who is alleged to have refused the test a work permit can be obtained after 90 days.

The bill is set to take effect on July 1, 2010, and appears to affect even those people whose license renovations for OWI began prior to the start date.  This is particularly important to Defendant’s currently serving revocation for a second offense OWI since it may make them eligible for a work permit immediately after the law takes effect.  The change in the law will affect people who were arrested prior to July 1, 2010.

This bill also fixes an enigmatic bit of law which required any Defendant convicted of a second offense OWI whose license had not been revoked administratively to face a revocation period of two years.  This meant that a Defendant with a low breath test or one whose test had been suppressed would face a longer revocation upon conviction that the equivalent administrative revocation might have been if the test result had been higher.    This bill brings the revocations triggered by the OWI conviction into line with the administrative revocations.

This blog is not intended as legal advice. If you are facing a driving sanction for OWI and would like to know how this coming change in Iowa law will affect you, please contact Attorney J. Dean Keegan or Thomas D. S. Farnsworth at our  Iowa City or  Cedar Rapids office for a free consultation.

See the full text of House File 2452


Posted in Drivers' License, Legislation and Lobbying, OWI / DUI | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hanging Up on the Fourth Amendment Right of Being Free of Illegal Search and Seizure

The City of Dubuque, Iowa recently passed a municipal bill outlawing the use of handheld cell phones for talking and texting while driving. The Iowa State Legislature is poised pass a similar measure in the coming months. Although enforcement of the bills may provide peace of mind for drivers the question becomes at what constitutional costs to a driver. A growing concern in the criminal defense community is that some officers may use the laws to circumvent protections under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.   There is a long litany of Iowa Court of Appeals and Supreme Court cases which aim to protect drivers from police intrusion into their private automobiles.  Cell phone bans will likely open the door to more stops for “investigatory purposes.”  Once these laws are in place the everyday citizen should expect to be stopped by police. According to Lt. Scott Baxter of the Dubuque Police Department an officer will not need to observe an actual cell phone or the act of texting.  “A lot of things you look for with a potential cell phone violation or texting violation would be the same things you’re looking for with a drunk driver or impaired driver. Erratic driving, drifting across the center line, high speed, low speed, variations in that regard.” [1] It is likely that an officer that observes any of these driving behaviors he may believe he has probable cause to stop a vehicle.  Once the vehicle is stopped if the officer has a valid suspicion of other wrong doing he may broaden the scope of detention and inquire further to address his suspicion. If the officer’s suspicion leads to probable cause criminal charges for operating while intoxicated, driving under the influence, possession of marijuana, driving under suspension or driving while barred will likely occur.

If find yourself charged with a crime stemming from a stop based upon suspected cell phone use or texting it is important to seek a competent defense lawyer who understands the methods of attacking the validity of the officer stop.  J. Dean Keegan and Thomas D. Farnsworth have a combined criminal law experience of over 20 years. Keegan and Farnsworth offer free consultations to inform the accused of potential issues in their case.   This blog is not intended as legal advice. If you find yourself in a similar situation to the blog article above pplease contact Attorney J. Dean Keegan or Thomas D. S. Farnsworth at our  Iowa City or  Cedar Rapids office for a free consultation.


[1] http://www.kgan.com/shared/newsroom/top_stories/videos/kgan_vid_2031.shtml

Posted in Criminal Defense, Legislation and Lobbying, OWI / DUI | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

My daughter just got arrested! Can I get her out of jail?

The answer to this question is generally yes. The second question that often follows is how much is bond? The decision to bond an individual after an OWI/DUI or drug charge requires an understanding of the process. The decision to stay in jail for 24 hours may save a person thousands in bond fees.

In Iowa a criminal defendant has a right to see a judge or magistrate within 24 hours of arrest. A judge has three options at the time of initial appearance 1) place a bond 2) release on own recognizance or 3) release with supervision to the department of corrections. The judge will release the vast majority criminal defendants on their own recognizance. A small number will be released to the department of correctional services. The remainder will held in jail pending a bond. Charges which often result in bonds include OWI/DUI 2nd offense, OWI/DUI 3rd Offense, Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Deliver or other drugs, Assaults Causing Injury, Domestic Assaults etc.

A bond is an amount of money required by the court to secure a criminal defendant’s appearance in future court dates. Bonds can be set as cash or surety. A cash bond is exactly what it sounds like cash. A surety bond is generally posted by bonds company like Lederman. A surety bond generally requires the accused to post 10% and the bond company guaranteeing the remainder. For example, a defendant charged with two felony drug charges would likely have a $10,000 dollar cash only bond. The defendant, family, or friends would need to post $1000.00 to the bond company. The bond company would then execute paper work and secure the defendants release. At the conclusion of the case the bond company would retain 10% as its fee.

In the event a person is held with a cash only bond or surety bond it may financial benefit the individual to wait in jail for an informal bond review. An informal bond review allows criminal defense lawyers J. Dean Keegan or Thomas D. Farnsworth to have a hearing within in 24 hours Monday thru Friday. Informal bond review occur in the morning in Johnson County. Prior to the hearing Attorneys Farnsworth or Keegan conduct interviews with the defendant and or the defendant’s family to gain information which may be used to argue for release.

Recently Attorney Farnsworth was able to secure, through an informal bond review, an accused marijuana dealer from jail even though the court set bond at $10,000 cash only. The hearing prevented the family from tying up money which could be used to defend the case. Ultimately family and friends must determine if a few additional hours in jail is worth the thousands of dollars to bond an individual out.

No one criminal case is the same.  It is important to seek a competent defense lawyer who understands the criminal and drivers license administrative issues. J. Dean Keegan and Thomas D. Farnsworth offer free consultations to inform the accused of potential issues in their case. This blog is not intended as legal advice. If you find yourself in a similar situation to the blog article above please contact Attorney J. Dean Keegan or Thomas D. S. Farnsworth at our  Iowa City or  Cedar Rapids office for a free consultation

Posted in Criminal Defense | Tagged , , , , , ,

Department of Transportation hearing following an OWI/DUI

I recently met with a University of Iowa student that had been charged with a 1st Offense Operating While Intoxicated.  She contacted my office and as a standard procedure I requested a hearing with the Iowa Department of Transportation to contest the loss of her license based upon her blood alcohol content.  I wasn’t the first attorney she spoke with about her OWI/DUI offense, and said told me that the first lawyer she talked to said “you should not do a DOT hearing.” Naturally she inquired as to why one attorney would recommend the hearing and one would not. I told her that I did not know why the attorney would not challenge the revocation or use it as a discovery tool for information that could benefit her case.  Finally I told the client, as in anything in life, you should compare apples to apples and ensure you are getting value for your attorney fees.

At the Law Offices of J. Dean Keegan we conduct Iowa Department of Transportation hearings to contest the loss of driving privileges stemming from an OWI/DUI in all cases when our clients are statutorily eligible. Any individual whether licensed in Iowa or another state is eligible for a hearing if it is requested with 10 days of implied consent procedure -typically a breath test failure or refusal.  The hearing is administrative in nature and must occur within 45 days unless good cause exists for a continuance.  A defendant is entitled to stay the loss of drivers’ license which allows the individual to drive without any restrictions.

After attorney J. Dean Keegan or Thomas D.S. Farnsworth has requested a hearing a subpoena duces tecum is sent to the law enforcement agency/police officer to obtain videos and reports that are critical in preparing a proper defense for the DOT hearing and the criminal charge of Operating While Intoxicated. Following the service of the subpoena the DOT and my office work closely with each other to set a mutually acceptable date for the hearing. In preparation for the hearing a thorough review of the documents and videos produced can lead to issues to contest the loss of license and or the charge of Operating While Intoxicated.

Finally the time for the hearing arrives; the participants include an Administrative Law Judge, your lawyer, a representative from the Iowa Attorney General’s Office and the law enforcement officer. The law enforcement officer is sworn in and his testimony recorded so that it may be used from in later hearings.  After all questioning and argument is concluded the Administrative Law Judge will issue a written ruling upholding the revocation or rescind it from the defendant’s record.

In the event the Administrative Law Judge upholds a suspension not all is lost.  The testimony provided in the DOT hearing can and is often used in suppression hearings or trial in the criminal Operating While Intoxicated.  Additionally a favorable outcome in a suppression hearing or motion in limine can give reason to reopen the DOT proceedings and rescind the revocation or short the duration of the suspension.

In the event you do not seek counsel with-in the statutory limit to request a DOT hearing or you hire an attorney that informs you DOT hearings are unnecessary similar information can be gleaned from a deposition and suppression hearings.  However, a deposition can come at a much more substantial cost than the DOT hearing.  Additionally you will automatically lose your license and begin to serve a suspension of driving privileges.

No one operating while intoxicated case is the same. It is important to seek a competent defense lawyer who understands the criminal and drivers license administrative issues.  J. Dean Keegan and Thomas D. Farnsworth offer free consultations to inform the accused of potential issues in their case.   This blog is not intended as legal advice. If you find yourself in a similar situation to the blog article above please contact Attorney J. Dean Keegan or Thomas D. S. Farnsworth at our  Iowa City or  Cedar Rapids office for a free consultation

Posted in Criminal Defense, Drivers' License, OWI / DUI | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

DUI, DWI, and OWI…What’s the Difference?

Drinking and driving goes by many names.   DUI, or Driving Under the Influence. Or you can call it DWI, Driving While Intoxicated.  Some call it OWI, meaning Operating While Intoxicated.  Or even OMVI, short for Operating a Motor Vehicle while Intoxicated. People call  my office telling me that they need help with a DUI…or a DWI, or a host of other acronyms for drunken driving offenses. While Iowa’s acronym is actually “OWI” for “Operating While Intoxicated,” I get the picture. But what exactly does an OWI in Iowa mean?

In Iowa, there are two elements that make up the offense of OWI: you have to be operating a vehicle and you have to be under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

  1. Operation.  Iowa defines operation as being in actual physical control of a motor vehicle that is in motion or has the engine running.
  2. Under the Influence.  The State can establish that you are under the influence using officers’ observations of a you and your performance on a series of field sobriety tests, or other indicators.  Or, more familiarly, there is a “per se violation; ” which mean that you provide a test result above .08 or indicating the presence of a controlled substance.

So what’s the difference? In Iowa, no matter what you call it, OWI or DUI, DWI or OMVI, Drinking and Driving or just plain bad luck, it’s a violation of the Code of Iowa Chapter 321J.2.

Other states use other acronyms. Iowa’s use of “Operating” gives you a clue to the fact that our legislature has criminalized merely operating a car as opposed to driving one, though it’s impossible to make any assumptions about a state’s laws based on their acronyms. As an attorney licensed to practice in Iowa I can give you a very clear picture of what the Iowa legislature has chosen to criminalize with regards to DUI/OWI, but if you have a question about any other state’s drinking and driving laws, or you or someone you know needs an OWI/DUI lawyer outside the state of Iowa , you can contact the National College for DUI Defense Website to find a competent OWI/DUI attorney in that state.  If you or someone you know has been charged with OWI in Iowa please contact Attorney J. Dean Keegan or Thomas D. S. Farnsworth at our  Iowa City or  Cedar Rapids office for a free consultation.

Posted in Criminal Defense, OWI / DUI | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

It’s my first OWI and I took a breath test – so why are they taking my license for a year?

Under most circumstances when someone is arrested for a first offense OWI and agrees to take a breath test, they are given notice that they’ll lose their license for six months.  But when that person has an .02 violation on their driving record, the Iowa Department of Transportation considers you a second offense for licensing purposes.  In this post I want to address some of the questions that the .02 violation creates for drivers and OWI/DUI Defendants.

Let’s say you are driving through Iowa City or Coralville trying your best to dodge the traffic after a Hawkeye basketball game, and you have an unfortunate run in with a Johnson Count Sheriff’s Deputy.  You are asked to give a breath test and the deputy revokes your license (or non-resident operating privileges) for a predetermined time period specified by the Iowa DOT.  In Iowa, a person charged with drunk driving faces the following consequences:

If you provide a specimen of breath:
• 1st offense 180 days
• 2nd offense 1 year
• 2nd or subsequent 1 year

If you refuse to provide a specimen of breath
• 1st offense 1 year
• 2nd offense 2 years
• 2nd or subsequent 2 years

But occasionally I meet with people who have not previously been charged with operating while intoxicated, however, the DOT is still treating their test as a second offense. They usually don’t understand why they are subject to a harsher penalty.The culprit is usually a “zero tolerance” or “.02 violation” on their driving record.

The .02 violation adopted by the Iowa Legislature is aimed at individuals under the age of 21 who operate a motor vehicle and are stopped by the police and take a breath test with a result that ranges from .02 to .08. Prosecutors offices rarely file an OWI or DUI charge in connection with the incident, so there is no criminal offense. However, the Iowa DOT can take a person’s license for a period of 60 days. For the next twelve years the “.02” violation subjects the driver to an enhancement if another test failure or refusal occurs.

In short the laws under Iowa Code 321J encompass “.02” violations. This law can have dire consequences on a person license. An example from my practice was of a young man received an .02 violation at the age of 17. Eleven years later he received a revocation for operating while intoxicated. His youthful indiscretion from eleven years earlier coupled with the revocation for operating while intoxicated resulted in a year long loss of license. To make matters worse the defendant was not eligible for a work permit under current Iowa Law. The young man faced termination from his employment as a drivers license or work permit was mandatory.

If you find yourself charged with operating while intoxicated and have had a prior “.02” violation it is important to seek legal representation. A thorough analysis of a defendant’s case can yield suppression issues.  If a breath test is suppressed it is possible that the DOT will only revoke your license for 90 days with a permit available for at least a portion of that time.

No one operating while intoxicated case is the same. It is important to seek a competent defense lawyer who understand the criminal and drivers license administrative issues. J. Dean Keegan and Thomas D. Farnsworth offer free consultations to inform the accused of potential issues in their case. This blog is not intended as legal advice. If you find yourself in a similar situation to the blog article above please contact Attorney J. Dean Keegan or Thomas D. S. Farnsworth at our  Iowa City or  Cedar Rapids office for a free consultation.

Posted in Criminal Defense, Drivers' License, OWI / DUI | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,