What is Implied Consent?

As a condition of your ability to drive in the state of Iowa, the law implies that you agree to consent to the withdrawal of a specimen of your breath, urine, and sometimes blood to determine the level of alcohol or other substances in your system, if certain predicate circumstances exist, i.e. there are reasonable grounds to believe you have violated the operating while intoxicated laws, and either:

  • have been arrested for operating while under the influence
  • refused a preliminary breath test (pbt)
  • provided a pbt over .08
  • submitted to a pbt which indicated an alcohol concentration of less than .08 and the peace officer had reasonable grounds to believe that you were under the influence of a drug other than alcohol or a combination of alcohol and another drug
  • are under age 21 and submitted to a pbt which indicated an alcohol concentration between .02 and .08
  • were operating a commercial motor vehicle and submitted to a pbt which indicated an alcohol concentration of four hundredths (0.04) or more
  • were involved in a motor vehicle accident or collision resulting in personal injury or death

In Iowa, the law states that you cannot operate a motor vehicle while intoxicated/under the influence. This is slightly different from many states with driving under the influence (DUI/DWI) laws. It is important to note that you can be arrested for OWI for sitting in your car with the engine running. The term “operate” means the immediate, actual physical control over a motor vehicle that is in motion and/or has its engine running. This law applies anywhere, even on your own personal property, and even if it isn’t a car or motorcycle. The law covers any motorized vehicle.

One thing to note – the pbt test result cannot be used against you at a trial for OWI (though sometimes it can be used in a trial for public intoxication), and only can be used to determine whether the officer had valid grounds to invoke implied consent and request a more formal official evidentiary chemical test, typically the Datamaster breath test at the police station (or urine or blood).

Can You Revoke Implied Consent?

You have the right to revoke implied consent; however, there are consequences. For example, if you refuse to take the test, you will lose your license for a longer period of time – much longer than if you had taken the test and failed/been over the legal limit (typically double the length of time), and for a first offense you would become ineligible for a deferred judgment (you are never eligible for a deferred judgment for a second or subsequent lifetime OWI).

Of course, refusal gives the police one less piece of evidence against you, which can create reasonable doubt, especially if you seem sober on the video and you did well on the field sobriety tests (which you also do NOT have to do if you do not want to, and there are no legal consequences for a refusal to do the field sobriety tests or drug recognition expert testing), BUT, the state will be able to reference at trial the fact that you refused to test even in the face of much harsher consequences as a result of your refusal to provide a specimen.

While you have the right to refuse to take the test, the police still can obtain a warrant to seize your blood. This usually can or will occur if they have reasonable grounds to believe you were operating your vehicle while intoxicated and caused an accident that resulted in death or life-threatening injuries to another. There also are certain circumstances when a specimen can be requested at a hospital if you are unconscious.

Click to read another article to learn more about the drivers’ license consequences:

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