Getting Your Iowa Learners Permit
You can begin the process of obtaining your Iowa drivers license as soon as you turn 14 years old! You begin the process by applying for your Iowa learners permit (also called the Iowa instructional permit). To do this, you will first need to make an appointment at your local Iowa Department of Transportation office. Bring the following items to your appointment:
- Valid Iowa identification documents (both certificate, Social Security card, etc)
- Written permission from your parent or legal guardian.
Once you get to the IDOT, you must take two tests:
- Driving knowledge test
- Vision screening test
Passing both of those tests earns you your Iowa learners permit. This permit is valid for 4 years, and once you have it you are able to enroll in an Iowa driver education program, and you may begin to practice driving with any of the following:
- A certified driving instructor
- A driver older than 25 (with written permission from your parent or guardian)
- A family member older than 21 (family member must have their license)
Who Takes Iowa Drivers Education?
If you are an aspiring Iowa driver under the age of 17, you are required to hold your learners permit for a minimum of 6 months in order to obtain your license. Obviously, you must successfully hold the permit while remaining in good standing – that means no tickets. You also must complete a state-approved drivers education course before applying for an Iowa drivers license.
If you are older than 17 and would like to earn an Iowa drivers license, it's a little easier. If you've never held a U.S. drivers license (from Iowa or any other state), you must complete a state-approved drivers education program. You also may complete 10 hours of supervised driving, including 2 hours of night driving. These tasks must be completed prior to applying for your Iowa drivers license.
Iowa Drivers Education Course Overview
Every driving school will be slightly different, but there are several topics that the state of Iowa wants aspiring drivers to learn. All courses should include the following criteria:
- 30 hours of lessons that focus on:
- Alcohol safety and drug abuse awareness
- Defensive driving
- Motorcycle awareness
- Railroad crossing safety (for a minimum of 20 minutes)
- Organ and tissue donation
- 6 hours of in-car lessons that cover:
- 3 hours of behind-the-wheel driving experience (no parental waiver available for this time)
- 3 hours on driving simulator
Again, these are strict guidelines that are mandated by the state of Iowa. Once you have completed your drivers education course, your driving school will notify the Iowa Department of Transportation by providing them with a copy of your completion certificate. Once they receive your certificate, the IDOT will send you a permanent drivers license.
If you are under 18, you will have to get your certificate signed by a parent or legal guardian, who must verify that your 10 hours of driving practice has been completed.
There are also some optional programs for Iowa residents. These additional courses could help Iowa drivers to qualify for insurance discounts or to reduce points on their Iowa drivers licenses.
Applying for Your Iowa Drivers License
After completing your Iowa driver education course, you're almost ready to apply for your permanent drivers license. Just make sure you have completed the following checklist of requirements:
- Held Iowa learners permit for 6 months (without incident)
- Completed 20 hours of supervised driving
- 2 hours at night
- 30 hours of online or classroom driver education course
- Including 4 hours of substance abuse education
- 6 hours of "laboratory" work (behind the wheel and driving simulator)
If you have met all the requirements, and you're 16 or older, you're ready to get your permanent license. Once you pass your road test, you're a licensed driver.
Important Iowa Teen Driver Restrictions
For your first year as an Iowa driver, you have to adhere to a few rules. These are established to protect new drivers, and to provide them with valuable experience before allowing them to drive under any riskier conditions. The restrictions are as follows:
- No driving between the hours of 12:30 a.m. and 5 a.m. without supervision.
- (You are excluded from this if you have a waiver for driving to/from school or work)
- Complete 10 additional hours of supervised driving in the first year.
- 2 of these hours must be at night.
- All passengers must wear seat belts.
- You remain accident and violation-free for 12 consecutive months.
The great thing about driver education is that it never really ends. Even after you get your license, every time you get behind the wheel of an automobile, it's another opportunity to sharpen your skills, and serve as a role model for other drivers who may not be as careful.