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Frequently Asked Questions - Iowa Teen Driver

The State of Iowa has the following requirements for applicants who wish to obtain an instruction permit or a Minor School License (MSL)

Instruction Permit
• You must be 14 years old.
• You will need to show proof of identity, residency and Social Security number.
• You will need to have written consent from your parent or legal guardian.
• You will need to pay a fee of $6.

All instruction permits are valid for a period of four years.

Minor School License
• You must be between the ages of 14 and a half to 18 years old.
• You need to have an instruction permit.
• You must have completed an approved driver education course.
• Your parents must give consent by signing the Statement or Necessity/Affidavit for School License form.
• You must pass a driving test.

Before applying for a school license, you must have held an instruction permit for six months and your driving record must not have any convictions for a moving violation or found at fault in an auto accident.

Before applying for an instruction permit, you should complete a driver’s education course approved by the State of Iowa. This will help you learn the rules of the road and safe driving techniques. Study the Iowa Driver’s Manual before taking the written knowledge test. This handbook covers traffic signals, road signs and has practice questions to help you prepare for the written exam. The manual is available at any driver’s license station or on the Iowa Department of Transportation’s (DOT) website. The DOT also has study guides available in Albanian, Bosnian, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Vietnamese.

The Iowa DOT has the following requirements for anyone applying for a permit or driver’s license:

Applicants who have not been licensed before must:
• Submit proof of identity and residency
• Submit proof of Social Security number
• Pass the vision test
• Pass the written knowledge test
• Pass the driving test
• Pay the applicable fees

Applicants with a valid out-of-state driver’s license must:
• Submit proof of identity and residency
• Submit proof of Social Security number
• Pass the vision test
• Pay the applicable fees
• The driver’s license must not be suspended or revoked

Applicants under 16 years but less than 18 years old who are transferring an out-of-state license must:
• Submit proof of identity and residency
• Submit proof of Social Security number
• Pass the vision test
• Pass the written knowledge test
• Pass the driving test
• Pay the applicable fees

Applicants with an out-of-state license must:
• Submit proof of identity and residency
• Submit proof of Social Security number
• Pass the vision test
• Pass the written knowledge test
• Pass the driving test
• Pay the applicable fees
• The driver’s license must not be suspended or revoked

Applicants who were not born in the United States must:
• Submit proof of identity and residency
• Submit USCIS documents in lieu of Social Security number
• Pass the vision test
• Pass the written knowledge test
• Pass the driving test
• Pay the applicable fees

While driving with a parent or legal guardian, permit holders must log 20 hours of driving with a minimum of two hours between sunset and sunrise. You must not have any traffic violations or auto accidents for six consecutive months immediately prior to applying for an intermediate license.

The Iowa Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program has the following requirements for obtaining an intermediate or full driver’s license:

Intermediate License
• You must be at least 16 years old.
• You must have written consent from parent or legal guardian.
• You must have held an instruction permit for a minimum of 12 months.
• You must complete ten hours of supervised driving, with two hours between sunset and sunrise.

Full License
• You must be at least 17 years old.
• You must have written consent from parent or legal guardian.
• You must meet all the Intermediate License conditions.

Drivers under 18 may have additional restrictions or their license may be suspended for a moving violation or being found at fault in an auto accident.

What restrictions if any are there for new drivers?
There are no specific restrictions for newly licensed drivers. However, it is against the law for any driver in Iowa to read, write or send a text message while operating a motor vehicle. The following exceptions apply to reading a text message:

• A member of a public safety agency while performing official duties
• A healthcare professional in an emergency situation
• A person receiving safety-related information (emergency, traffic or weather alert)

All drivers with an instruction permit, minor school license or intermediate license are prohibited from using any type of electronic communication device while driving.

Iowa State law requires all public schools to offer driver education courses to their students. Most courses are taught during the summer months, but larger school districts will offer courses during the fall and spring semesters. The required driver’s education includes:

• 30 hours of classroom instruction
o 4 hours of substance abuse education, at
o 20 minutes about railroad crossing safety
o Information about organ donation
o Information about bicycle and motorcycle awareness

• 6 hours of lab time
o 3 hours behind the wheel
o 3 hours behind the wheel or using a simulator

Parental waivers for behind the wheel training are not allowed.

The State of Iowa has the following restrictions for anyone with a permit or intermediate license:

Instruction Permit
• Drive with a parent, legal guardian or family member over 21, with a driver’s education instructor or with any licensed driver over 25 (with written permission from a parent or legal guardian)
• The number of passengers is limited to the number of seat belts in the vehicle
• Must drive crash free and violation free for six consecutive months before applying for an intermediate license.

Intermediate License
• Drive between 12:30 and 5 am only with a licensed parent, guardian or family member over 21 or designated adult over 25
• With a waiver between 12:30 and 5 am, going to or from work or school related activities
• The number of passengers is limited to the number of seat belts in the vehicle
• Must drive crash free and violation free for 12 consecutive months before applying for a full license.

The Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) has the following general guidelines for school licenses:

• School transportation is not available for school activities.

• There must be a distance of at least one mile between the student’s residence and the school.

• The school superintendent, chairperson of the Board of Education or school principal, must verify the need for a license. The MSL is valid for attending classes or attending a school-sponsored event within the school district.

• The student must travel the most direct route between home and school.

• The license is only valid for schools within the district and between the hours of 5 am and 10 pm.

• Students are not allowed to stop on the way and pick up or drop off other students, but they can transport other students from their own residence.

• Students are allowed to stop for fuel only if the gas station is along the most direct route from home to school.

Your license may be suspended for 30 days under the following conditions:

• You are convicted of a moving violation or found to be at fault for an auto accident.

• The Iowa DOT receives a written report from a police officer, parent, legal guardian, school superintendent or superintendent’s designee that the student violated the MSL restrictions.

• Suspension of your MSL also cancels the privilege of driving with an instruction permit. If you have two or more moving violations, your license will be revoked for one year or until you turn 16, whichever is longer. To reinstate the license, you will need to have SR-22 insurance and pay a civil penalty of $50 in addition to the reinstatement and new license fees.

The Iowa DOT requires applicants to pass the following tests before an instruction permit or driver’s license will be issued:

Knowledge Test
• The knowledge test is to find out how well you know and understand Iowa traffic laws, road signs and the rules of safe driving.

Vision Screening
• Listed below are the Iowa vision screening requirements:
o Vision 20/40—No restrictions unless you wear glasses or contact lenses
o Less than 20/40 but at least 20/50—No driving when headlights are required
o Less than 20/50 but at least 20/70—No driving when headlights are required or at speeds over 35 miles per hour (mph)
o Less than 20/70—Not eligible for licensing

• Field of Vision
o 140 degrees or better—No restrictions
o Less than 140 degrees but at lest 115 degrees in single best eye (70 degrees temporal and 45 degrees nasal)—Left and right outside rearview mirrors will be required
o Less than 115 degrees—Not eligible for licensing

Driving Test
• The driving test is to show how well you can operate a motor vehicle. You must bring a licensed driver with you unless you can legally drive in Iowa. The license examiner will inspect the vehicle’s safety equipment, which includes:

o Seat belts
o Turn signals
o Horn
o Brake lights
o Tires
o Windshield wipers

• The vehicle should have a current registration sticker on the license plate. The registration receipt and proof of insurance should be in the vehicle.

When applying for a license or permit, you must submit proof of age and identity. If you are under 18 and not married, you must submit a primary form of identification, a secondary form of identification, verification of Social Security number and a parental consent form. If you are under 18 and married, you must show proof of age and identity by submitting your birth and marriage certificates. All applicants must provide one item from the primary list and one item from the secondary list unless they already have a driver’s license or identification card issued by the State of Iowa. All documents must be an original. Photocopies or faxes are not acceptable.

Proof of Identity—Primary List
• United States birth certificate issued by government agency with raised seal
• Iowa driver’s license or identification card with photo
• Valid United States passport
• United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) document
• Military identification card (does not include a dependent identification card)
• Notarized copy of an Inmate Descriptor Inquiry form, Client Information Inquiry form or Offender Snapshot document issued by the Iowa Department of Corrections containing full name and date of birth.

Proof of Identity—Secondary List
• Social Security card issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA)
• Bureau of Indian Affairs or Indian Treaty card
• Driver’s license or identification card with photo (not expired more than one year)
• Foreign birth certificate (translated by an approved translator)
• Military discharge/separation papers or military orders (DD214)
• Employer identification card
• Health insurance card
• Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or state tax document completed by a government agency or W-2 forms completed by employer
• Gun permit
• Pilot’s license
• Certified transcript or school record
• Canadian Social Insurance card
• Student identification with photo
• Voter registration card
• Welfare card
• Prison release document
• Certified or notarized affidavit personally submitted by the applicant’s parent or legal guardian. The parent or legal guardian must submit acceptable proof of his or her identity.

Proof of Iowa Residency
• Iowa voter registration card
• Iowa vehicle registration certificate
• Utility bill showing 30 days of residency
• Statement from an Iowa employer
• Children’s school enrollment papers
• Documentation showing filing for homestead or military tax exemption on Iowa property
• Other items will be reviewed by licensing personnel