Have a New Driver? Here are Tips for Navigating Iowa’s Driver’s License Laws

Have a New Driver?  Here are Tips for Navigating Iowa's Driver's License LawsOf course, I realized my child would eventually need to learn to drive, but when the time officially arrives and you are sitting in the passenger seat ready to hold on for dear life, man is it ever a wake-up call!

My husband and I both grew up in smaller communities than Cedar Rapids, where Driver’s Education was offered within the school system and parents did not have to worry about having a spot for their child. This is not the case in large communities these days (although this varies by location, so ask your school district). And, hello completely different driving license offerings, permissions, and regulations! Learning permits, school permits, intermediate licenses, rules at 14, 16, 17, 18 … yikes!

While I am grateful for these additional parameters, I was a little overwhelmed with all the information found on the Iowa DOT website

Here are my condensed and abbreviated takeaways:

Instructional Permits

What can your child do with this permit?

  • Drive at any time with a parent, guardian, or immediate family member 21 years of age or older
  • Drive with a person 25 years or older, with written permission from a parent or guardian

What can’t your child do with this permit?

  • Drive without adult supervision
  • Use a cell phone, smartphone, or tablet while driving
  • Carry more passengers than the number of seat belts in your vehicle (even with adult supervision)

Minor School License

What can your child do?

  • Drive without adult supervision from 5 a.m. – 10 p.m. for:
    • School academic activities
    • School-sponsored extracurricular activities
      • Public schools: Within district territory
      • Private schools: Within a 50-mile radius
    • Other schools if participating in extracurricular activities
    • To and from the closest school bus stop
    • Stop for fuel
  • Drive at any time with adult supervision

What can’t your child do?

  • Drive to work without adult supervision
  • Use a cell phone, smartphone, or tablet while driving
  • Carry more passengers than the number of seat belts in your vehicle
  • Carry more than one minor that does not live in the same household, without an adult
  • Drive to schools/school activities not associated with enrolled school and/or if not a participant

Intermediate Driver’s License

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Complete an Iowa-approved driver education course
  • Hold a valid permit for a total of at least 12 months, with a clean driving record for at least six months
  • Written consent from a parent or guardian
  • Complete 20 hours of supervised driving, including driver’s education, with two between sunset and sunrise

What can your child do?

  • Drive without adult supervision between 5 a.m. – 12:30 a.m.
  • Drive at any time with adult supervision

What can’t your child do?

  • Drive without adult supervision between 12:30 a.m. – 5 a.m.
    • A parent or guardian may waive this restriction for school or work purposes only
  • Use a cell phone, smartphone, or tablet while driving
  • Carry more passengers than the number of seat belts in your vehicle
  • If “passenger restriction” applies, for the first six months they cannot carry more than one minor passenger (from the same household)

Full Driver’s License

  • Available at 17 years old, when all conditions of the Intermediate License have been met, and:
    • Have had Intermediate for at least 12 consecutive months
    • Complete 10 hours of supervised driving while holding Intermediate
    • Written parent or guardian consent
  • Available at 18 years old without meeting requirements of the Intermediate License, and if had a clean driving record for at least 12 consecutive months

 What can your child do?

  • Full driving privileges with no restrictions
  • For drivers under 18 or 21, the license will have the words “under eighteen” or “under twenty-one”

Hold on, here we go! I will be sure to keep you posted on the highlights of our journey.

Until then, best of luck to all parents of budding drivers!

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Amber grew up Eastern Iowa. Coe College brought her to Cedar Rapids, but her love for the city and community made her stay. She and her husband of 15 years, Shannon, share a home in Marion with their two children (13 year old daughter & 10 year old son). Her passions include outdoor activities in our city’s many parks and trails, exploring unique, locally owned business, as well as all things creative. If you ask her about her bucket list, she’ll share endless travel destinations! Amber spends her days as the Director of Fundraising Marketing, leading a talented team of creatives for nearly 18 years. She is also a devoted advocate for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and other underrepresented causes.