You get one telephone call

Iowa Code Section 804.20 – Right to Consult an Attorney or Family Member

Once you have been arrested or restrained by law enforcement, and brought to the police station or jail, you have the right to call either a family member or an attorney. 

You must ask to make the call; law enforcement does not have to tell you that you can make the call.  Any call must be made in the presence of the police.  You have the right to one call to a family member and a “reasonable” number of telephone calls to obtain an attorney.

In State v. Garrity, the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that if a police officer turns down a phone call request because it is to call someone not an attorney or a family member, the officer must then explain who can be called.  The purpose of a phone call under the statute is not limited to seeking advice on whether to submit to chemical testing, but may be made for any “good faith purpose”

In the Garrity case, because the Defendant was not told who he could call, the fact that Mr. Garrity refused to take the OWI test at the station was ordered suppressed.  However, the suppression did Mr. Garrity no real good since the Supreme Court ruled there was sufficient other evidence to find Mr. Garrity was intoxicated.


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