Is an OWI (DUI) suspect in Iowa entitled to a phone call? 


Under Iowa Code § 804.20, any law enforcement detainee is allowed contact with an attorney, family member, or loved one by telephone or in person within a reasonable period of time following detention. The statute reads:

“Any peace officer or other person having custody of any person arrested or restrained of the person's liberty for any reason whatever, shall permit that person, without unnecessary delay after arrival at the place of detention, to call, consult, and see a member of the person's family or an attorney of the person's choice, or both.  Such person shall be permitted to make a reasonable number of telephone calls as may be required to secure an attorney.  If a call is made, it shall be made in the presence of the person having custody of the one arrested or restrained.  If such person is intoxicated, or a person under eighteen years of age, the call may be made by the person having custody.  An attorney shall be permitted to see and consult confidentially with such person alone and in private at the jail or other place of custody without unreasonable delay . . . .”

Iowa Code § 804.20.

So, what does that mean? It means you can make contact if you can make contact. It’s a big if. In other words, at 3 AM, after the bars are closed, a lawyers’ offices have been closed for nearly nine hours. And while law enforcement believe that the purpose behind the statute is to get to the next phase in an OWI investigation, namely, Datamaster DMT consent or refusal, it’s not that simple.

The purpose of the statute is to allow a detainee to make contact with a loved one, to compose one’s self, and make rational decisions about next steps. But nothing in Iowa Code § 804.20 specifically references OWIs or the Datamaster DMT test.

The importance of Iowa Code § 804.20 is in its refusal if specifically requested. Such refusal might be considered grounds to rescind a driver’s license revocation or otherwise suppress Datamaster DMT results or a refusal.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for OWI (DUI) in the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, or other Iowa community, contact DAC-LAW PLC at 319-389-4276 for a free initial consultation.

However, remember that reading a blog is not legal advice and sending unsolicited information to a lawyer over the Internet does not establish an attorney-client relationship. 

Right to phone call - every Iowa OWI suspect and, indeed, every law enforcement detainee in Iowa is entitled by statute to contact an attorney, family member, or loved one without unnecessary delay. If you or a loved one has been arrested for OWI in Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Waterloo, or other Iowa community, contact DAC-LAW PLC for a free initial consultation at 319-389-4276 or Contact Us