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Administrative Review Hearing in Iowa

In Iowa, you must file a challenge with the Department of Transportation to your OWI charge within 10 days of your arrest, or you will lose your license without a hearing. If the suspension is protested, an administrative hearing by the Department of Inspections and Appeals will be held within a few weeks of the arrest to determine if the license should be suspended.  The driver’s license suspension by the administrative hearing can be appealed to the Department of Transportation.

The request for a hearing can be used as evidence in criminal or civil proceedings. Only your full name, current address and phone number, Driver’s License Number, and date of birth are required on the request.  All other information is optional, and should not be provided.  Failure to provide the required information, however, will result in waiver of the hearing right.

The administrative DMV hearing is on the civil side of an OWI case and focuses on the police and chemical test reports. Much of the evidence submitted is “hearsay” evidence, statements made by people not present at the hearing; this evidence can be challenged by an attorney, and if it is found to be legally inadmissible, the DMV cannot suspend your license.

The issues raised at a hearing include:

1. Were you driving the vehicle?

2. Were you legally stopped by the officer?

3. Were you legally arrested by the officer?

4. Did you take a test and was it done properly under the law?

5. Did you have a blood alcohol level above the legal limit?

If you took a chemical test, there are three issues at stake: 1) whether the officer had a reasonable belief that you were under the influence, 2) whether the arrest was lawful, and 3) whether a properly conducted chemical test indicated that the driver had a BAC of above the legal limit.

If you refused a chemical test, it must be determined whether you were advised of the consequences of refusing the test, and whether you still refused the test after being advised of the consequences. If you lose the DMV hearing, the length of the license suspension will be substantially longer if you refused the test.

The arresting officer is required by law to immediately send to the DMV a copy, with a sworn report, of the notice of suspension or revocation and any driver’s license taken into possession. The DMV automatically conducts an administrative review that includes an examination of the officer’s report, the suspension or revocation order, and any test results. If the suspension or revocation is upheld during the administrative review, you may request a hearing to contest the decision.


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