Iowa Teen Driving Laws, Insurance Requirements & Drivers License

Information on Iowa Teen Driving Rules, Insurance Requirements & Drivers License

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The State of Iowa has a graduated driver license system for teen drivers under the age of 18. The system reduces risk factors for teen drivers while increasing parental involvement and supervision. It also gives young Iowa drivers the opportunity to practice driving and learn the rules of the road, without all of the allowances given to a fully licensed adult.

The Iowa “Instruction Permit” Program

Cell Phone Warning: Iowa Teen drivers that hold an instruction permit are prohibited from using a cell phone or electronic device while operating a motor vehicle.

The instruction permit is available to teen drivers 14 years of age. The applicant must have the written consent of a parent or legal guardian. This permission statement must be signed by the parent or guardian in the presence of a state-certified examiner. If the parent or guardian is not present during application, a notarized copy of written consent may be presented to the examiner. The applicant must also pass a vision screening and a knowledge test. When applying for the learner permit, the applicant must have proof of identification and a Social Security Number that is verified.

A teen driver who has received an instruction permit, must hold it for a minimum of 6 months and must be under supervision by a licensed driver at all times while driving. Supervision can be provided by a parent, guardian, immediate family member over the age of 21 or a driver education instructor. The teen may also be supervised by a licensed driver over the age of 25 if there is written permission from the parent or legal guardian. Passengers in the vehicle are limited to the number of safety belts available. The instruction permit holder must complete a minimum of 20 hours of supervised driving with 2 of the 20 hours being at night.

Six months of safe driving: The instruction permit driver must drive  without a violation or accident for six months prior to applying for the intermediate driver license. In addition, during the time the teen driver with an instruction permit must must complete a State of Iowa approved driver education course. This includes 30 hours of in class instruction that has the mandatory subject matter listed below.

  • 4 hours of Substance Abuse Training
  • 20 minutes - Railroad Crossing Safety
  • 6 hours of laboratory time with 3 of these hours being “Behind the Wheel” training.

The Iowa “Intermediate License” Program

Cell Phone Warning: Iowa Teen drivers that hold an intermediate permit are prohibited from using a cell phone or electronic device while operating a motor vehicle.

The applicant for the intermediate license must meet the requirements listed above for the instruction permit including written consent of a parent or legal guardian. The intermediate license must be held for a minimum of twelve months and during those twelve months the license holder may drive without supervision from 5:00 AM to 12:30 AM.

Any driving that takes place outside of the hours listed above must be supervised by a licensed driver who is an immediate family member over the age of 21, a parent or guardian, or a designated adult driver over the age of 25. If the teen driver is driving to and from employment or school sanctioned activities they may drive outside of the hours listed above, however they must have a signed waiver. While driving the teen driver must limit passengers to the number of available safety belts. The intermediate license holder must complete ten hours of supervised driving and 2 of those hours must be nighttime driving.

Twelve months of safe driving: The intermediate license driver must drive  without a violation or accident for twelve months.

The State of Iowa Full License

The full license is available for teen drivers at the age of 17. To receive a full license the driver must meet all of the requirements for the intermediate license including written parental permission. The holder of a full license may drive restriction free, however if the teen driver is under the age of 18, the full license will have the notation, “Under Eighteen” or if under the age of 21 the full license will have the notation, ”Under Twenty-One”.

The State of Iowa Financial Responsibility Act

While driving in the State of Iowa you must be able to prove financial responsibility if you are involved in an accident. A driver who does not have insurance, or proof of financial responsibility may have the license and registration suspended. For more information please use the "Insurance Requirements" link posted below.

Iowa Text Messaging Law

Iowa House File 2456 has been signed into law by the Governor and has gone effect. This 2010 law prohibits all drivers from reading, writing and sending of text messages while operating a motor vehicle. In addition the law also prohibits novice drivers from using a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle. Specifically: "A person issued an instruction permit or intermediate driver's license shall not use an electronic communication device or an electronic entertainment device while driving a motor vehicle"

Other State of Iowa Information

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