Can you be charged with OWI even though you had not been operating a vehicle with in a period of time – say an hour or more.

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can you be charged with OWI even though you had not been operating a vehicle with in a period of time – say an hour or more.

My girlfriend was issued an OWI even though she had not been driving for an hour or two before the incident.

She went to her ex-husband’s home to inquire why her name was still on the mortgage of the property he was living in. After about an hour or so of arguing, her ex-husband called the police.

She was asked to submit to a breathalyzer and refused. She had not been driving at the time and has a history of anxiety issues but was charged with an OWI.

Asked on April 26, 2018 under Criminal Law, Iowa


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you can be charged if the facts support doing so, such as:
1) Your condition suggests you had been drinking earlier, before or when you drove;
2) There is witness (e.g. her ex-husband) testimony that you showed up to the location drunk;
3) You drove there, so if you had been drinking earlier, you must have been driving under the influence.
So it depends on whether the facts and evidence support charges or not.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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