The Iowa Supreme Court rules cities cannot seek restitution from people arrested in routine drunk driving cases.

The ruling involves a 2014 drunk driving stop in Davenport where an officer pulled over Esther Arriaga for driving erratically and running a red light. Arriaga pled guilty to second offense OWI and the city sought $54.50 cents restitution for the officer’s time at an hourly rate of $19 and the use of the squad car at an hourly rate of $7.

The city cited a special restitution law that allows them to recover the costs of an “emergency response” resulting from an OWI violation. The Scott County District Court threw out the restitution request, saying there was no emergency involved. The Supreme Court agreed, saying the stop was proper — but it was routine stop, not an emergency — as there was no accident and no one made a 911 call.

The ruling also covered two other OWI stops in Davenport. One sought an hourly rate of $61.30 for the time of officers and the cost of the squad cars at an hourly rate of $18 for a total of $317. The other requested restitution for two hours an officer’s time at an hourly rate of $61.30, and two hours for the time his squad car was out of service, at an hourly rate of $18.00. That came to a total of $158.60.
Here’s the ruling: OWI Emergency ruling PDF