Iowa Driving Privileges

With more young drivers hitting the roads, and more electronic gadgets distracting drivers than ever, it’s important to stay up on the ever-changing laws about driving privileges in the state of Iowa.

Instruction Permit

Operation of a motor vehicle in the state of Iowa can legally begin at age 14 with an instruction permit. An instruction permit is obtained with a parent’s permission, either written or in-person; taking and passing the written and vision tests; and providing a primary form of identification, proof of residency and a Social Security number. This permit allows the driver to drive at any time with adult (an immediate family member 21 years or older or someone 25 years or older with your parent’s written permission) supervision. You can have as many passengers as you have seat belts in your vehicle. You cannot use any electronic devices while driving. If you are convicted of a moving traffic violation such as speeding, reckless driving, not wearing your seat belt, or get into an accident, your permit may be suspended. If you get a second violation of any of these issues, your permit will be suspended for 30 days. Any of these violations will also go against your clean driving record, which may affect your insurance as well as your ability to get the next level of driving permit.

Minor School License

Some families choose to opt for their child, aged 14 ½ or older to get a minor school license. This would allow them to drive without adult supervision directly from your home to your school and back using the most direct route. An Iowa-approved drivers education course must be completed and a clean driving record and an instruction permit are pre-requisites to this license. Only one non-family minor passenger is allowed in the car, and you cannot use any electronic devices while driving.

Intermediate License

When kids turn 16 they are eligible to obtain an intermediate license which allows them to drive on their own after completing an Iowa-approved drivers education course. This license allows unsupervised driving between the hours of 5 a.m. and 12:30 a.m. and adult-supervised driving any time. You may not have more passengers than seat belts in your vehicle, and you may not use electronic devices while driving. Moving traffic violations will be punished by a suspended license, additional restrictions and marks on your clean driving record.

Full License

At age 17 Iowans are eligible for a full license if they have met all previous license and driving requirements. This entitles a driver to full driving privileges with no restrictions. At age 18 a full license may be obtained without meeting previous license requirements.

If you have moving traffic violations and your license is suspended or revoked it’s good to know what your options are. Sanctions from the Iowa Department of Transportation can include things such as a license being denied, cancelled, suspended, revoked, disqualified or barred. You may be able to appeal whatever sanction has been taken against you.

Appealing a Sanction

Not all sanctions are able to be appealed. If you received an official notice of your sanction from the Iowa DOT, it will state if you are able to appeal your sanction or not. If you are allowed, your appeal must be submitted in written form within a specified time period. If you do not submit your appeal within the proper timeframe, your request will automatically be denied. If your request due date falls on a weekend or holiday, the deadline will extend to the next regular business day.

Privileges While Appealing

If you need to drive while awaiting the results of your appeal you can request a stay order that will keep your driving and registration privileges the same status they were at the time you were sanctioned. If you had a valid license prior to your sanction the Iowa DOT may be able to temporarily stop the sanction while your case is reviewed and a decision has been made on your appeal.

For specifics on any of these licenses, privileges and sanctions make sure you visit the Iowa DOT’s website at