OWI Arrests Up In Iowa City, As Blood-Alcohol Readings Spike

By Mark Carlson, Iowa City Bureau Chief

IOWA CITY, Iowa - The number of people charged with driving while intoxicated is on the rise again in Iowa City. In 2013 Iowa City police charged 546 with OWI, not including the month of December.

The number is an 8-year high for the city, but police do not believe more people are drinking and driving, despite several highly publicized OWI arrests in Johnson County.

"I still believe more people are calling cabs these days," said Sgt. Vicki Lalla of the Iowa City police department. "The education has gotten better."

Lalla pointed to the fact that 116 of the arrests were for driving under the influence of drugs and not alcohol, an all-time high for the city.

"It's the same charge," she said. "We've increased our training to spot drugged drivers."

In 2004 police arrested 857 drivers for driving while intoxicated, a 10-year high. That same year they made just 17 drugged driving arrests.

The string of highly publicized OWI arrests centers around several recent blood-alcohol content readings. Early Friday morning Levi Carter, 28, of Iowa City was arrested after police said his BAC was so high the machine would not register. Earlier this week a man was arrested in North Liberty after police said he registered a BAC of 0.435. In November another North Liberty man was arrested with an alleged BAC of 0.454.

The highest BAC believed to ever be recorded in Johnson County was registered in 2012 when a 24-year-old man's blood showed a 0.627.
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