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How alcohol limits can lead to OWI arrests

On Behalf of | May 31, 2024 | Drunk Driving

An operating while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (OWI) charge in Iowa is much like a driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) charge from another state. Someone accused of an OWI allegedly drove while alcohol diminished their ability.

Most people associate OWI offenses with impaired driving ability. They think of motorists who swerve all over the street, brake erratically or otherwise fail to follow traffic laws because of the cognitive impairment and motor function issues caused by excessive alcohol consumption.

The reality is that many people accused of an OWI offense may not have any obvious signs of intoxication in a social setting or even on the road. They may drive in a relatively safe and normal manner. Instead of getting arrested because of poor driving ability, the basis for their arrest is usually an elevated blood alcohol concentration (BAC).

When does it become illegal to drive after drinking?

Anyone who recognizes that their alcohol consumption has affected their ability to drive should find an alternate means of getting home. That being said, many people who feel sober enough to drive our technically over the limit.

In Iowa, most adult motorists are at risk of arrest if their BAC reaches 0.08% or higher. In some cases, and even lower limit may apply. Minors who cannot yet legally consume alcohol are subject to much stricter limits. Even adults could face arrest for lower levels of alcohol in their bloodstream if they are in control of a commercial vehicle. The limit in that scenario is 0.04%, which is well below when people notice impairment.

Someone accused of an OWI offense based on a high level of alcohol in their bloodstream can theoretically defend against the charges they face by questioning the accuracy of the test results or by providing an alternate explanation for why the results seem so high. Medical issues, dietary choices and even improper maintenance of a testing device could all raise questions about whether someone actually violated the law.

Understanding what the law considers an OWI offense can be beneficial for those who have been recently arrested. Despite what people often believe, it is possible to successfully fight back against OWI charges under a variety of different circumstances.