Iowa Speeding laws

Iowa's speeding laws and the consequences of a violation.

In addition to "absolute speed limits" (see below), Iowa's "basic speed law" requires motorists to drive at a careful and prudent speed not greater than nor less than is reasonable and proper, having due regard to the traffic, surface and width of the highway and of any other conditions than existing. The basic speed law also prohibits driving at a speed greater than will permit the person to bring it to a stop within the assured clear distance ahead.

(Iowa Code Ann. §§ 321.285, 321.288 (2017).)

Penalty for Exceeding Speed Limit

A first-time speeding violator may be:

  • fined between $50 and $100
  • sentenced to jail time of not more than 30 days, and
  • facing a license suspension of up to a year.

Penalty for Reckless Driving

A person can be convicted of reckless driving in Iowa for driving in a manner that indicates a “willful or a wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” A first violation is a simple misdemeanor and carries up to a year in jail and/or $25 to $625 fines. (Iowa Code Ann. §§ 321.277, 902.9, 903.1 (2017).)

(Find out more about Iowa's reckless driving laws and consequences of a conviction.)

Speed Limits

Iowa's absolute speed limits are:

  • 65 miles per hour on controlled-access, multilane highways including interstate
  • 55 miles per hour on other highways or on surfaced secondary roads
  • 45 miles per hour in suburban districts
  • 45 miles per hour on roads under the control of the State Board of Regents
  • 35 miles per hour on state parks and preserve roads
  • 25 miles per hour in a residence or school district, and
  • 20 miles per hour in a business district.

Iowa Speeding Law

Iowa has what is known as an “absolute” speed limit law. There's no trick to how it works: If the sign says 40 miles per hour and you drive 41 miles per hour or more, you have violated the law. In other words, you are guilty if you drive over the speed limit. In Iowa you may be able to make three possible defenses:

  • attacking the officer’s determination of your speed (to do this you must discover what method the officer used to cite you and then learn about the ways to attack that particular method)
  • claiming an emergency forced you to exceed the speed limit to avoid serious damage or injury to yourself or others, and
  • claiming that the officer mistook your car for another car (with so many similar-looking cars, it is possible that a cop could see a speeding car, lose sight of it around a corner, and then wrongly pick out your car farther down the road).

Note that in Louisiana you can be ticketed for driving at an unsafe speed, even if that speed does not violate the posted limit—for example, driving exactly at the maximum posted limit on the freeway amidst slower and heavy traffic, in a dense fog, or in a driving rainstorm or blizzard.

Scheduled Violations

Most speed law violations are considered "scheduled violations" for which the following fines apply:

  • $20 for speed not more than five miles per hour in excess of the limit
  • $40 for speed greater than five but not more than ten miles per hour in excess of the limit
  • $80 for speed greater than ten but not more than fifteen miles per hour in excess of the limit
  • $90 for speed greater than fifteen but not more than twenty miles per hour in excess of the limit, and
  • $100 plus $5 for each mile per hour of excessive speed over twenty miles per hour over the limit.

(Iowa Code Ann. § 805.8A (2017).)

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