Driving Without a Valid (or on a Suspended) License in Iowa

Read about the penalties for driving without a valid license in Iowa.

Iowa law prohibits driving without a valid license. This article explains what constitutes a violation, the possible penalties, and the exemptions to the rule.

Driving Without a License in Iowa

Generally, every person who operates a motor vehicle on an Iowa highway must have a valid driver's license in his or her immediate possession. (Iowa Code Ann. § 321.174.)

Penalties for Driving Without Having an Iowa License in Your Possession

A driver who has been issued a license but does not have it in his or her possession can be charged with a simple misdemeanor. However, the driver can avoid the conviction by presenting a then-valid license in court. But drivers who can do so will still have to pay court costs.

Penalties for Unlicensed Driving in Iowa

Unlicensed driving is a simple misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of $105 to $855. The penalty is the same for those driving on an expired license.

Exceptions to Iowa's Driver's License Requirement

Subject to Iowa age restrictions, a non-resident driver with a valid driver's license from his or her state of legal residence can drive in Iowa without an Iowa license. Farmers driving certain machinery and military personnel in military vehicles are also exempt from licensing requirements.

Driving While Restrained (Suspended or Revoked) in Iowa

A person who operates a vehicle while his or her license is suspended, barred, or revoked will face possible jail time, fines, and an extended driver's license suspension. (Iowa Code Ann. § 321.218.)

Penalties for Driving on a Suspended License in Iowa

Driving while suspended is a simple misdemeanor. Convicted persons will face a $250 to $1,500 fine and up to 30 days in jail. Most convictions will result in an additional driver's license suspension similar to the one originally imposed.

Penalties for Driving on a DUI-Suspended License in Iowa

Violators whose license was suspended due to a DUI will be guilty of a serious misdemeanor. Convicted motorists face up to one year in jail and a fine of $1,000. Violators will have their original suspension period doubled and their vehicle impounded.

Iowa's Habitual Violator Law

Persons who are convicted of driving while suspended three times within six years are considered habitual violators. Habitual violators are barred from receiving a license for two to six years and may face prison time for any future violations.

Talk to an Iowa Defense Attorney

Unlicensed driving can lead to serious consequences. If you've been charged with one of the offenses discussed above, you should talk to a defense attorney. An experienced defense lawyer can review your case and help you decide on the best course of action.

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