First-time offenders face a mandatory suspension of their driving privileges; alcohol treatment and a hefty fine. If their drunk driving results in someone’s death they face a maximum 25 years in prison. But a new bill being proposed by Iowa state legislators a third drunk driving offense would be increased from a Class D to a Class C felony, meaning the punishments, including fines, fees and jail sentences would also increase.
Despite statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration which indicates the rate of vehicle crashes caused by distracted driving is increasing, the rate of driving while intoxicated is not declining. In fact, in some regions the incidence of drunk driving is actually rising right along with the incidence of distracted driving.
These statistics are forcing some state legislators, like those in Iowa, to re-examine existing drunk driving laws. Some states already have laws which require offenders (even first time offenders) to install ignition interlock devices on their vehicles. These devices prevent the vehicle from starting until after the drivers has taken and passed a breathalyzer test attached to the vehicle control system. In states where these laws are in place the rate of repeat drunk driving offenses have dramatically declined.
In Iowa, where the state already has severe penalties for anyone caught drunk driving, legislators are not yet looking at interlock devices but they do seem willing to penalize offenders in the harshest ways possible, including jail time.