Each state has their own laws on drugs and alcohol and the State of Iowa is no different. The local law enforcement ensures effective control over use, manufacture and possession of substances that are deemed to be a danger to individuals and the society.

DUI Laws in Iowa

A person faces a DUI charge if they are driving under the influence of :

  1. Alcohol,
  2. Drugs, or
  3. A combination of both.

The official term for DUI in the State of Iowa is OWI. That is to say you can get a DUI penalty for operating a vehicle while intoxicated. But this does not mean that you can escape the charges if you were not driving.

As per Iowa OWI laws, a drunk or drugged driver can be charged if:

  • He/She is in contact with the vehicle (actual physical control).
  • The vehicle remains parked, but the engine is running.
  • Keys are in the ignition or within reach.
  • The car is parked somewhere other than driveway.

Iowa BAC Limits

In the State of Iowa, it is illegal for drivers to have a BAC of 0.08% or above. BAC (blood alcohol concentration) is the amount of alcohol present in your system: urine, blood, or breath. For those who drive commercial vehicles, the legal limit of BAC is 0.04%.

The police officers recognize impaired driving ability through your actions. Usually, it shows up as slurred speech, over excitement, etc.

Zero Tolerance Laws for Iowa

Iowa’s Zero Tolerance policy is primarily geared towards underage drinking, but also extends to DUI laws. The legal BAC limit for young drivers and adults under 21 is 0.02%. And those who violate this law face a severe sentence.

Is Marijuana Legal in Iowa?

The State of Iowa had passed a medical CBD law in 2014. Although the law allows the usage of low-THC, high-CBD extracts, marijuana is not legalized.

This drug is available on limited use exceptions. You can get cannabis treatment for qualifying medical conditions, such as epilepsy, autism, seizures, and others.

Drug and Alcohol-Related Crimes

Iowa divides controlled dangerous substances (CDSs) into 5 types of scheduled drugs. Some of these illegal drugs include cannabis, heroin, LSD, peyote, ecstasy, and others.

Possession of Scheduled Drugs in Iowa

Possession of any amount of CDSs is a misdemeanor. However, you can legally possess medication like codeine and other drugs with a valid prescription.

Cultivation of Scheduled Drugs in Iowa

Making scheduled drugs is a felony in Iowa. Especially if a minor gets involved, the prison sentence increases. In the same way, if the cultivation area is close to a school, one may face more severe charges.

Distribution of Scheduled Drugs in Iowa

Selling marijuana will get you a felony punishment. Furthermore, a firearm, if found during the violation, you may receive double the prison time.

Drug and Alcohol DUI in Iowa

Iowa prohibits driving while intoxicated. If there is a child in the vehicle, the DUI sentence will carry more severe penalties. The State also bans public intoxication. That means the law prohibits an open container of alcohol even in the passenger seat of the vehicle.

Penalties for Drug or Alcohol Abuse in Iowa

Iowa has strict penalties for drug and alcohol crimes.

DUI Penalties in Iowa

A first offense DUI is a misdemeanor. This may result in 48 hours to one year in prison and $1,250 in fines. Your driving privileges will be lost for a period of 180 days to one year. These penalties depend on whether you have consented to the chemical tests.

In the same manner, the second and third offenses carry increased penalties. As a result of your DUI, if someone gets injured or dies, you could lose your driver’s license for more duration.

For commercial vehicle drivers, their license can be suspended from 1 year to 10 years. The imprisonment duration depends on the type of material transported. It also increases with the number of prior convictions.

Zero Tolerance Penalties in Iowa

The State treats underage drivers on par with adult OWI offenders. They will face similar penalties.

Besides the above penalties, the court may order:

  • A substance abuse course for all OWI convicted persons.
  • Installing an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) in the car. 
  • Impoundment of the vehicle.

Cannabis Penalties in Iowa

For possession of cannabis for personal use, you could receive six months to 2 years in jail. You pay a minimum of $1,000 to a maximum of $6,250 in fines.

You serve a higher term in jail if you carry weed near school zones or swimming pools. Making and distribution of weed (50 kg or less to over 1000 kg) could get you five years to 50 years of jail time. You will face additional charges for promoting weed to someone under 18 years of age.

Treatment for Addiction

People with drug and alcohol addiction disrupt their life and health. They diminish their quality of life and may face legal problems in the process. Avoid meeting the harsh drug and alcohol laws in Iowa. Get the right care from a treatment center near you. Call Rehab Adviser today to get your life back on track!


  1. Nolo. (2010, July 7). Iowa OWI Laws, Fines, and Consequences
  2. The Marijuana Policy Project. (n.d.). Iowa
  3. NORML – Working to Reform Marijuana Laws. (n.d.). Iowa Laws & Penalties

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