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Iowa Auto Driving Laws

Protecting Your Driving Privileges

Driving on Iowa's streets and roads is a privilege many drivers take for granted. That privilege can be taken away if you abuse it by violation Iowa traffic laws. Protect your driving record by operating your motor vehicle according to Iowa driving law and rules of the road.

The Office of Driver Services in Des Moines keeps track of your license and your driving record. Your driving record shows all traffic violations and traffic accidents.

The Office of Driver Services tries to make sure only safe, responsible persons are driving on Iowa's roads. If you have too many accidents or traffic violations, your driving privileges may be limited or taken away.

Cancellation of License

Any existing license will be canceled if it should not have been issued in the first place.

A moped permit will be canceled if you are convicted of a moving traffic violation. After 30 days, you may be able to get your permit back by passing a knowledge test.

Suspension of License

In accordance with Iowa driving law, your license can be suspended for several reasons. These reasons include:

  • habitual recklessness or negligence - having a combination of three or more moving violations and accidents, or contributing to three or more accidents in a 12-month period;
  • habitual violator - three or more convictions for moving traffic violations within any 12-month period, or contributing to three or more accidents in a 12- month period;
  • failure to pass an examination, or a mental or physical condition making you unable to drive safely;
  • violation of license restriction;
  • being a juvenile who a court has ruled delinquent for violating drug or alcohol laws;
  • failure to pay a fine, penalty, surcharge or court costs resulting from a traffic ticket;
  • conviction for excessive speeding, traffic violation(s) contributing to a fatality, or an arresting officer or court stating an unusually serious violation occurred;
  • failure to attend an approved school if you are under age 18; or
  • falsifying information on an application.

In any of these cases, you may request a hearing to talk about your suspension. Failure to pay child support or to satisfy debts owed to the state may result in suspension without the opportunity for a hearing.

Minor's Restricted License and Minor's School License

The DOT can suspend your minor's restricted license or minor's school license for conviction of just one violation of Iowa driving law. If you are convicted of two or more violations of Iowa traffic laws, your license will be revoked for at least one year.

It is important to note that under Iowa driving law a suspension or revocation of a minor's restricted license or a minor's school license also suspends or revokes your instruction permit and/or other driving privileges you hold.

Mandatory Revocation of License

In accordance with Iowa driving law, your license will be taken away for any of the following violations of Iowa traffic laws:

  • manslaughter resulting from driving a motor vehicle;
  • using a motor vehicle when committing a felony;
  • failure to stop and give aid at the scene of a personal injury or fatal accident in which you were involved;
  • lying about the registration or operation of a motor vehicle;
  • eluding or trying to elude a marked law enforcement vehicle driven by a uniformed peace officer after being signaled with lights or a siren to stop, and while doing that, going over the speed limit by 25 mph or more;
  • driving a motor vehicle under the influence of an alcoholic beverage or other drug or a combination of such substances;
  • refusing to take a chemical test when requested by a peace officer;
  • having an alcohol concentration of .08 or more (.02 or more if under age 21) in a chemical test;
  • a second conviction for reckless driving;
  • drag racing;
  • conviction of an Iowa resident in a court in Iowa, or in another state or federal court, of certain drug-related offenses; or
  • conviction, or juvenile court action, for drug/drug-related violations.

Vehicle Operating Privileges Barred (Habitual Offender)

Under Iowa driving law, you may be ruled a habitual offender if you are convicted of three or more certain violations of Iowa traffic laws in a six-year period. Your operating privileges may be barred in accordance with the following point system:

Conviction - Points

  • Perjury or making a false statement under oath to the Department of Public Safety - 2
  • Driving while under suspension, revocation, or denial - 2
  • Driving while under an alcohol or drug-related revocation - 3
  • Driving while barred - 4
  • Driving while under the influence of alcohol or a drug or having an alcohol concentration of .08 or more - 4
  • An offense punishable as a felony under motor vehicle laws or any felony in which a motor vehicle was used - 5
  • Failure to stop and leave information or render aid at an accident site - 5
  • Eluding or attempting to elude law enforcement - 5
  • Serious injury caused by the operation of a motor vehicle - 5
  • Manslaughter resulting from the operation of a motor vehicle - 6

Points - Length of Bar

  • 6-7 - 2 Years
  • 8-9 - 3 Years
  • 10-12 - 4 Years
  • 13-15 - 5 Years
  • 16 or more - 6 Years

Another way you may be considered a habitual offender is if you are convicted of six or more moving violations within two years. If the six moving violations include speeding, the speeds must be at least 15 mph over the legal speed limit.

In accordance with Iowa driving law, this may result in you being barred from operating a vehicle for one year. IF YOU ARE CAUGHT DRIVING AFTER BEING BARRED AS A HABITUAL OFFENDER, YOU CAN BE IMPRISONED FOR AS LONG AS TWO YEARS.

Moving Violations

In accordance with Iowa driving law, a moving traffic violation involves any Iowa traffic law violation except those involving:

  • equipment (except brakes)
  • city parking regulations
  • expired licenses or permits
  • failure to appear
  • weights and measures
  • disturbing the peace with a motor vehicle
  • failure to display flag on moped
  • seat belt violations
  • child restraint violations

Reinstatement of Driving Privileges

To get your driving privilege back after a suspension or revocation for a violation of Iowa driving law you must go through a reinstatement process which may include passing required tests and paying appropriate fees.

Under Iowa driving law, if your driving privilege is taken away, you may have to show future proof of financial responsibility.

If your license is suspended or revoked due to a conviction(s) of Iowa driving law or for reasons relating to financial responsibility, you will have to pay a $200 civil penalty prior to reinstatement. However, for persons age 19 or under, the civil penalty will be $50.

Out-of-State Convictions

Traffic violations in other states apply to your Iowa record. Under Iowa driving law, if you are convicted in another state and the offense is grounds for suspension or revocation in Iowa, your license may be suspended or revoked.

For More Information

Iowa Department of Transportation


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