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Iowa Graduated License Program - IA Graduated Drivers License Requirements

Iowa Graduated Drivers License

Most states around the country treat traffic safety very seriously and Iowa is no exception with its graduated drivers license system that targets drivers under 18 years of age. The Iowa graduated drivers license system aims at reducing the number of violations and traffic accidents that involve teenage drivers and it achieves these goals with introducing compulsory drivers education classes and extended holding period for learner's permits and intermediate drivers licenses. The graduate drivers license system in Iowa also utilizes a number of additional restrictions that apply only to teenage drivers. Those who break the graduated license restrictions have to go through a Remedial Driver Improvement program, in severe cases the driving privilege may be suspended or withdrawn.

Let's take a look at what the official Iowa drivers handbook says about the graduated drivers license system and its goals.

On January 1, 1999, Iowa began a graduated driver’s license (GDL) system for drivers under the age of 18. GDL includes three steps that allow for increased driving privilege as the driver accumulates more skill and demonstrates responsible driving practices.

Not much. Doesn't really explain why the graduated drivers license system was implemented and why it applies to teenage drivers only. We will try to look into this a little deeper so you will understand why the Iowa graduated drivers license is so important in helping young drivers develop safe driving habits.

First of all, why do we need all these learners permit restrictions and why not issue all Iowa drivers license applicants with full driving privileges right away? The reason why you can't apply for a full drivers license, skipping all intermediate stages, is because the Department of Transportation wants you to gain some driving experience before you get out on the road alone. Experience is everything when it comes to driving, it allows to make the right choices and avoid situations that can lead to traffic accidents. As a newly licensed driver, you don't have much or any driving experience, so you don't have the skills required for dealing with complex traffic situations.

The situation is even worse when teenage drivers are in question. Teenage drivers are much more likely to take risks on the road and are less likely to use safety precautions, such as wearing a seat belt. In order to compensate for these behavioral flaws, the DOT developed the graduated drivers license program that targets all drivers license and learners permit holders that are under 18 years of age. The program presents additional driving requirements and restrictions before the drivers license applicants and observance of these restrictions is essential for obtaining a full drivers license.

Please note: if you are 18 years of age or older, you are not subjected to the Iowa graduated drivers license laws and you may obtain a drivers license through a simplified application procedure. However, you must still go through the same examination as younger drivers - you are required to pass both the Iowa permit test and drivers license test before you can be issued a drivers license. If you want to see how good are your chances of passing the real permit test, please go ahead and take an Iowa permit practice test, it uses similar wording and covers the same driving rules as the actual DOT test.

Iowa Graduated Drivers License Stages

In order to allow teenagers to gradually gain the essential driving skills and experience, the licensing procedure is divided into a number of separate steps or phases. As the drivers license applicant proceed through these stages, additional driving privileges are granted, up until the point when the student receives a full Iowa drivers license. At the moment, the graduated drivers license system contains the following stages:

  1. Learners permit
  2. Intermediate drivers license
  3. Full drivers license

You are required to meet the requirements of the current stage of the program before you can proceed to the next step.

Iowa Learners Permit

The minimum age for entering the graduated drivers license program and receiving an Iowa drivers permit is 14. At this age, you may visit one of the DOT testing stations, take your permit test and receive your learners permit. One of your parents or legal guardian must be present at the time of the application so they can provide written consent to you applying for a learners permit. Once you gain your drivers permit, you may start practicing your driving skills, getting ready for the drivers test.

While your learners permit allows you to drive, you must make sure to observe the following Iowa learners permit restrictions:

  • No driving alone. You must have a supervising driver accompany you at all times. The supervising driver can be your parent,, a family member over 21 years of age, a drivers education teacher or any other driver at least 25 years of age who has written consent from your parents.
  • Passenger restrictions. The number of passengers in the vehicle must not exceed the number of available seat belts.
  • No cell phones. You cannot use a cell phone or any other communication or entertainment device that is not built into the vehicle.

According to the graduated drivers license requirements, the permit must must be held for at least six months before an Iowa drivers license test can be taken. During this period, you must log at least 20 hours of supervised driving, 2 hours must be done at night.

Another important part of the Iowa graduated license process are drivers education classes. Every minor has to complete a state-approved Iowa drivers education class before taking the road test. Certified drivers education classes must have at least 30 hours of classroom instruction and six hours of behind the wheel training. The certificate of completion you receive in the class must be presented at the time of your application for a drivers license.

To develop safe and responsible driving habits among teen drivers - this is the goal of the graduated driver license system and that is why the DOT treats every moving violation you commit very seriously. If you are convicted of a moving violation or are involved in an at-fault accident, the holding period for your learners permit will be restarted and you will also be forced to attend a Remedial Driver Improvement program. In some cases, your driving privileges may be suspended or revoked altogether.

Iowa Intermediate Drivers License

Once the above requirements are met and the drivers license test is passed, you are issued with an intermediate drivers license. Please note that the minimum age for receiving an intermediate license is 16, so even if you fulfill the graduated drivers license requirements sooner, you will still have to wait until your 16th birthday before taking the drivers license test. The intermediate license allows you to drive without a supervising driver, provided you observe the following license restrictions:

  • Nighttime driving. You are not allowed to drive between 12:30 a.m. and 5 a.m. This restriction may be lifted if you are traveling to an employment or school related activity and you obtain an official waiver. The restriction also doesn't apply if you have a supervising driver present in the vehicle. The requirements to the supervising driver are the same as for the learners permit.
  • Passenger restrictions. The number of passengers that can be present in the vehicle is limited by the number of available seat belts.
  • No cell phones. You cannot use a cell phone or any other communication or entertainment device that is not built into the vehicle.

You must hold a provisional drivers license for at least 12 months with a clean driving record, with no moving violations or traffic accidents. The consequences for receiving a moving violation are the same as for receiving a moving violation while driving with a learners permit - you have to attend the Remedial drivers improvement class and your driving privilege may be suspended or revoked.

Iowa Drivers License

A full unrestricted drivers license can be issued to drivers license applicants at least 17 years of age who have fulfilled all Iowa graduated drivers license requirements. This license does not have any restrictions on it, it allows you to drive all around the clock and carry as many passengers as the vehicle's specifications permit.

Remedial Drivers Improvement

The Remedial Driver Improvement class must be taken by teenage drivers who held a learners permit or a provisional drivers license when a moving violation was received. After completion of the class, the driver and his parents/legal guardians must pass an interview with a DOT employee who will determine further punishment for the offender. Depending on the nature of the offense, the DOT inspector may suspend or completely cancel the offender's driving privileges.