Iowa has two types of speeding laws: “absolute limits” and a “basic speeding law.” This article explains the differences between the two and the consequences of a speeding violation.
There is no trick to how Iowa’s absolute speed limits work: If the absolute speed limit is 50 miles per hour and you drive faster than that, you’ve violated the law. Unless otherwise posted, Iowa’s absolute speed limits are:
(Iowa Code Ann. § 321.285 (2017).)
Notwithstanding the absolute limits, Iowa’s basic speeding 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 then existing.” The basic speeding law also specifies that drivers must reduce their speed as appropriate when approaching crossings, curves, a hill crest, or when other road or weather conditions warrant the reduction.
In other words, motorists must always drive at a safe speed. What a safe speed is will depend on the circumstances. For instance, 55 miles per hour might be safe on a bright, sunny day. But if it’s dark and the road is icy, going 55 miles per hour could be dangerous and a violation of the basic speeding law.
(Iowa Code Ann. §§ 321.285, 321.288 (2017).)
Speeding is a simple misdemeanor in Iowa. For most speeding violations, the fines are:
And the fine is generally $100 for speeding violations in school zones. However, a driver who’s caught going more than ten miles per hour over the limit in a school zone faces up to 30 days in jail and/or $65 to $625 in fines.
(Iowa Code Ann. §§ 321.285, 805.8A, 903.1 (2017).)
Depending on the circumstances, a speeding violation can lead to a “reckless driving” conviction. Generally, a conviction carries up to 30 days in jail and/or $25 to $625 in fines.
And if a speeding violation results in the death of another person, it’s possible to be convicted of “homicide by vehicle”—a felony. Convicted drivers are looking at up to ten years in prison and $1,000 to $10,000 in fines.