Facing the Facts
Drinking and driving have never gone well together. Not only does alcohol cut your night vision in half and reduce your peripheral vision by up to one-third, in 2015 drunk driving took the lives of 123 Iowans.
Chances are you heard about one of these deaths on your local news station—you might have even known the victim or their family. But no matter how close or how far removed you are from these stories, the fact remains that drunk driving affects you, it affects your friends and family, and it affects everyone else in our state.
For a time, it seemed like Iowa roads were getting safer for motorists. Following the national trend, the number of traffic fatalities fell in recent years—but the percentage of those deaths caused by drunk driving actually increased in our state. In June, The Des Moines Register reported that in 2015, drunk driving accounted for 38% of all traffic fatalities, compared to just 31% in 2012. That’s a 7% jump in only three years—a sobering statistic.
Facing the Music
The legal consequences of drinking and driving are no joke, and they don’t go away over night. Even if you serve a jail sentence, your punishment won’t end once you take off the uniform. You will live out your sentence as you pay off fines, report to probation officers, and count down the days until you are eligible to drive again.
In Iowa, the consequences for drinking and driving are as follows:
- Administrative license suspension for 180 days. If you refuse to submit to a breathalyzer test, your license will be automatically suspended for one year.
- Minimum incarceration period of two days, not to exceed more than one year.
- Fines ranging between $625 and $1,250—not including alcohol education program fees, license reinstatement fees, the cost of an ignition interlock device, or potential restitution to victims.
- Required substance abuse evaluation.
- Administrative license suspension for a minimum of two to six years.
- Minimum incarceration period of seven days, not to exceed more than two years.
- Fines ranging between $1,500 and $5,000—not including alcohol education program fees, license reinstatement fees, the cost of an ignition interlock device, or potential restitution to victims.
- Required substance abuse evaluation.
- Community service, duration to be determined by the court.
Third & Subsequent Offenses:
- Your license will be revoked for six years, and your car may be seized.
- Minimum incarceration period of thirty days, not to exceed more than five years.
- Fines ranging between $2,500 and $7,500—not including alcohol education program fees, license reinstatement fees, the cost of an ignition interlock device, or potential restitution to victims.
- Required substance abuse evaluation. You may also be committed for treatment.
- You will be a Class “D” Felon.
People know the consequences of drunk driving—so why do they tempt fate and get behind the wheel?
In Iowa, where businesses and homes are often rural and spread out, there’s little to no public transportation available, and it’s easy to feel stranded without a car. For recovering alcoholics, the problem is often compounded by the fact they’ve exhausted their lifelines—people willing to answer the phone and come to their aid in the middle of the night.
If you’re recovering from a substance addiction, its important to plan ahead when you know you’ll be exposed to alcohol—even if you don’t plan on drinking. Arrange for a ride to and from your location, or keep the number of a cab handy. If you have a smart phone, download a ride-sharing app like UBER.
If you’re a loved-one of someone struggling with addiction, offer to be his or her lifeline. Simply put, that means you will give them a ride, “no questions asked,” if they find themselves in a compromising situation they can’t drive away from themselves. If you yourself aren’t able to pick them, you can call them a cab, or arrange for an Uber to pick them up.
Being a lifeline isn’t about condoning relapses or unacceptable behaviors—it’s about keeping your loved-one, and the rest of the motoring public, safe from harm. Relapsing isn’t a proud moment, but it can happen, even with support systems in place.
Don’t wait to talk to your loved-one about drinking and driving. Begin the conversation today. Not sure where to begin? Check out our Alcohol Recovery Guide below.