Iowa Text Messaging and Cell Phone Laws

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Except for novice drivers, there is no prohibition on cell phone use while driving in Iowa. However, all Iowa drivers are prohibited from texting while driving.

Cell Phone Use

There is no handheld cell phone prohibition for drivers except that novice drivers in Iowa - drivers with a learner's permit or intermediate license holders – are prohibited from using cell phones (handheld or hands-free) while driving.

Texting Laws

The law prohibits texting or emailing while driving -- that means no writing of outgoing text messages and no reading of incoming. (It has no effect on the ability to make or receive phone calls.) The law states: "A person shall not use a hand-held electronic communication device to write, send, or read a text message while driving a motor vehicle unless the motor vehicle is at a complete stop off the traveled portion of the roadway." Typical exceptions exist for hands free devices and GPS systems, as well as allowing drivers to receive "safety-related information including emergency, traffic, or weather alerts." 

Bus Drivers

Bus drivers are prohibited from texting while driving.

How is it Enforced?

A person ticketed under the new law will face a fine of $30 (or up to $1,000 for causing a serious accident while texting). Iowa’s novice driver cell phone laws are considered “primary” laws. A primary law means that an officer can pull you over for the offense without having to witness some other violation. That is, the officer sees a young driver on a cell phone and issues a citation. Iowa’s texting law is a secondary law. A secondary law refers to the fact that an officer can only pull you over and issue a ticket if the officer has witnessed some other violation – for example, you ran a stop light while texting.

Read more about Iowa’s distracted driving laws.

Other Iowa Information on this Website  

Drunk Driving Laws, Penalties and Fines in Iowa  

Teen Driving Laws and Insurance Requirements in Iowa

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