The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the Iowa Attorney General’s appeal of a case involving the Iowa Supreme Court’s reversal of a felony drunk driving conviction. Felipe Tovar was arrested for drunk driving for the third time in Iowa City in 2001. Tovar argued that his first arrest for drunk driving while he was a student at Iowa State University in 1991 should not count because he waived his right to have a lawyer and pleaded guilty. Iowa Assistant Attorney General Mary Tabor says the Iowa Supreme Court ruled Tovar should have been told more when he waived his right to an attorney in the first case. She says the Iowa Supreme Court required the defendant to be told that an attorney might help find an overlooked technical defense and about the dangers of proceeding without counsel after his first arrest and that first arrest shouldn’t be used in increasing the penalty against him as a three time offender. says the state feels that telling Tovar he had a right to an attorney was enough.She says the admonition required by the Iowa Supreme Court is not required by the Sixth Amendment and she says the state believes the first offense should count in figuring Tovar’s penalty. Tabor says this case could impact a lot of cases.Tabor says the case has national implications as Iowa can’t used O-W-I convictions from other states now in increasing the penalties against Iowans arrested for O-W-I, as the other courts don’t give the more detailed instructions to those who’re convicted on the drunk driving charges. Tovar says Iowa prosecutors have used the broader Tovar interpretation of the law since the Iowa court ruling, but it does impact other past cases. Tabor says the High Court will likely hear the arguments in January or February.
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