Driving Without a License in Iowa

What does it mean to drive while your license is expired, revoked, suspended or cancelled?

What does it mean to “drive without a license” in Iowa?

Driving without a license can refer to three scenarios. You’re stopped for an offense and:

  • You have a license but it’s not in your possession. In other words, you were licensed to drive but lacked proof, an infraction that may be dismissed once you can prove that you possessed a valid license at the time of the incident. (Note: you may have to pay a fine.)
  • You never applied for a license (or your license expired). Iowa Code Section Iowa Code § 321.174 states that a driver cannot operate any motor vehicle upon an Iowa highway without a valid license. Violation of this law is a misdemeanor and typically punished by a fine of approximately $250.
  • Your license was cancelled, revoked or suspended by the authorities. This offense is punishable as a misdemeanor (potential jail time not to exceed 30 days and a fine of up to $625 (Iowa Code § 903.1)). Additional to any other penalties, a fine of not less than $250 to not more than $1500 is imposed. Penalties may be more severe if there are extenuating circumstances such as prior convictions, or an incident in involving alcohol or property damage.

Who doesn’t have to have a valid Iowa driver’s license?

Iowa exempts the following persons from having to possess a valid Iowa license:

How do you fight the charge?

Fighting a “driving without a license charge” can be difficult. Once the district attorney or prosecutor alleges that you drove without a valid license, the burden of proof is on you to prove that you did possess a valid driver’s license at the time of your offense. If you don’t evidence of a license, you lose! Depending on your circumstances, you may benefit from the advice or negotiating skills of an attorney.

Can an undocumented immigrant obtain a driver’s license in Iowa?

An undocumented immigrant is not permitted to obtain a driver's license in Iowa.  



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