Don’t Let One Become One Too Many

Every day, almost 29 people in the United States die in alcohol-impaired vehicle crashes—that’s one person every 51 minutes in 2016. Drunk-driving fatalities have fallen by a third in the last three decades; however, drunk-driving crashes claim more than 10,000 lives per year. In 2010, the most recent year for which cost data is available, these deaths and damages contributed to a cost of $44B per year according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. While driving under the influence of alcohol is most common, don’t forget that drugs, either legal and illegal, can impair your judgment and your driving. Whether you’ve had one too many, or way too many, never drive impaired.

In Iowa, a typical OWI costs about $10,000 when you factor in legal fees, fines, and higher insurance rates
Image of a bottle knocked over with 29% inside the bottle
In 2017, 29 percent of all crash fatalities in Iowa were caused by drivers operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OWI)
Image that says, "ages 20-24"
Male drivers ages 20 to 24 represent the highest percentage of drivers involved in alcohol- and drug-related crashes
Image of a stop watch and text that says, "51 Minutes"
Every 51 minutes someone in the U.S. dies from a drunk-driving crash

How Many Drinks Does it Take?

It is difficult to calculate how many drinks it takes until a driver is over the limit because everyone is different. The law, however, is the same: Any BAC (blood alcohol content) 0.08 percent or higher is considered legally “drunk.” That being said, even a single drink can affect your driving, motor skills, and reaction time. Here are some facts to think about.

At BAC 0.02 percent, effects on your driving abilities include:

  • Decline in visual functions such as rapid tracking of a moving target.
  • Decline in ability to perform two tasks at the same time.

At BAC 0.04 percent, commercial drivers are considered legally drunk.

At BAC 0.05 percent, effects on your driving abilities include:

  • Reduced coordination.
  • Reduced ability to track moving objects.
  • Difficulty steering.
  • Reduced response to emergency driving situations.

At BAC 0.08 percent, drivers are considered legally drunk,

It’s a Law Not a Suggestion

  First offense Second offense Third offense
Jail 48 hours to one year Seven days to two years 30 days to five years
Fines and penalties $625 to $1,200 $1,875 to $6,250 $3,125 to $9,375
License suspension 180 days Two years Six years
Charge Operating while intoxicated (OWI) Aggravated misdemeanor Class “D” felony
  • Teens are subject to an OWI if they are driving and have consumed even the slightest amount of alcohol or drugs.
  • If a driver refuses to take a blood, breath, or urine test, they will be subject to a fine and automatic license suspension ranging from one to two years.
  • Depending on the specifics of a case, an OWI may also be punishable by:
    • Seizing, impounding, or immobilizing the vehicle.
    • Requiring the driver to undergo substance abuse treatment at a personal expense.
    • Requiring the driver to install an ignition interlock device (a Breathalyzer system that prevents a vehicle from being started if a driver has a BAC over the limit).
  • OWIs have a look-back period. This means that prior OWIs are relevant for sentencing. Even if the offense was committed out of state, a driver who has been convicted of OWI within the last 12 years will be levied a more severe punishment.
  • Some substances can remain in the bloodstream for up to several months resulting in an OWI even after the initial consumption.