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Iowa’s Graduated Driver’s License Program

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Iowa’s Graduated Driver’s License program – part one

Iowa has a graduated driver’s license (GDL) system for drivers under age 18. Driving is an adult responsibility that must be taken seriously to keep you and others safe and protect your privilege to drive. Our GDL system is designed to provide you with the experience necessary to gain and improve driving skills. The program includes several steps:

  1. Instruction Permit
  2. Minor School License (optional, specific eligibility criteria apply)
  3. Intermediate License
  4. Full License

    1. Instruction permit

    How do I get an instruction permit?

    • Be at least 14 years old.
    • Have written consent from your parent or guardian either in-person at a driver’s license issuance site or complete the Parent’s/Guardian’s Written Consent Form (form 430018) available at any driver’s license service center, or online at: https://forms.iowadot.gov/BrowseForms.aspx.
    • Pass the operator knowledge test and vision screening.
    • Provide proof of identity, proof of residency, and proof of Social Security number. Create a list of documents to take with you to the driver’s license issuance site at: www.iowadot.gov/mvd/realid/success.html

    What can I do with an instruction permit?

    Drive at any time with adult supervision.*

    What if I mess up on an instruction permit?

    Your permit may be suspended if you are convicted of a traffic violation (such as speeding, reckless driving, failure to obey a traffic signal), violate any of the restrictions on your permit, or are involved in a crash you caused or contributed to.

    • First offense: Your permit may be suspended or you may receive a safety advisory letter.
    • Second offense: Your permit will be suspended for 30 days.

    Any time you have a conviction, violation, or crash, or your license gets suspended or revoked, the six-month period to have a clean driving record, which is required to advance to a Minor School License or Intermediate License, will start over.

* Adult supervision means your parent, guardian, custodian, an immediate family member at least 21 years of age, a driver education instructor, or a person at least 25 years with written permission from your parent, guardian, or custodian. The supervising adult must possess a valid driver’s license. At no time can you use any electronic communication or entertainment device while driving (except equipment permanently installed in the vehicle), or carry more passengers than the number of seatbelts in your vehicle.

Iowa’s Graduated Driver’s License program – optional part two

2. Minor school license (optional)

How do I get a minor school license?

  • Be at least 14 1/2 years old.
  • Complete an Iowa-approved driver education course.
  • Hold a valid instruction permit and a clean driving record for at least six consecutive months immediately before applying for your minor school license.
  • Live 1 mile or more from the school you are enrolled in, unless a special need exists. If you have more than one residence, where you live is the location you reside the majority of the time.
  • Attend a public school located within the school district of your parent or guardian’s residence, or located in a bordering school district of your residence if you open enroll or your school district of residence has a sharing agreement, OR, attend an accredited non-public school that is within twenty-five driving miles of the residence of your parent or guardian.
  • Have the appropriate school authority AND your parent or guardian sign an Affidavit for School License (form 430021) available at any driver’s license service center, or online at https://forms.iowadot.gov/BrowseForms.aspx.
  • You may also be required to complete a drive test at the driver’s license issuance site.

What can I do with a minor school license?

Drive without adult supervision between the hours of 5 a.m. and 10 p.m. for purposes of:

  • Driving from your home to your school(s) of enrollment or school-sponsored activities using the most direct and accessible route. Activities must be at the school district(s) you are enrolled in and at a site designated by your school(s).
  • Driving to a school that is not your school of enrollment to participate in extracurricular activities conducted at that school under a sharing agreement with your school of enrollment. Activities must be in a contiguous (bordering) school district for public school students, or not more than 25 miles driving distance of your residence for private school students.
  • Driving to and from your home to the closest school bus stop.

Drive at any time with adult supervision.*

What if I mess up on a minor school license?

If you are involved in a crash you caused or contributed to, you will be subject to additional license restrictions. If you are convicted of a traffic violation such as speeding or violation of any restrictions on your license, the following will happen:

  • First offense: Your license will be suspended for 30 days and you must pay a fee to reinstate your minor school license.
  • Second offense: Your license will be revoked for 30 days and you must pay a fee to reinstate to an instruction permit for six months before you are eligible for a minor school license.

Any time you have a violation or your license gets suspended or revoked, your six-month period to maintain a clean driving record will start over after you have reinstated your driving privilege.

* Adult supervision means your parent, guardian, custodian, an immediate family member at least 21 years of age, a driver education instructor, or a person at least 25 years with written permission from your parent, guardian, or custodian. The supervising adult must possess a valid driver’s license. At no time can you use any electronic communication or entertainment device while driving (except equipment permanently installed in the vehicle), or carry more passengers than the number of seatbelts in your vehicle.

Iowa’s Graduated Driver’s License program – parts three and four

3. Intermediate license

How do I get an intermediate license?

  • Be at least 16 years old.
  • Complete an Iowa-approved driver education course.
  • Have had an instruction permit (or, a combination of an instruction permit and a minor school license) for one year and a clean driving record for at least six consecutive months immediately before applying for your intermediate license.
  • Have written consent from your parent or guardian either in-person at a driver’s license issuance site or complete the Parent’s/Guardian’s Written Consent Form (form 430018) available at any driver’s license service center, or online at: https://forms.iowadot.gov/BrowseForms.aspx.
  • Have completed 20 hours of driving with adult supervision* At least two of those hours must be between sunset and sunrise. The Parent’s Supervised Driving Guide is an excellent tool you can use to track those supervised driving hours!

What can I do with an intermediate license?

Drive without adult supervision between 5 a.m. and 12:30 a.m.; or drive at any time with adult supervision.*

What if I mess up on an intermediate license?

Your license will be suspended if you are convicted of a traffic violation (such as speeding, reckless driving, failure to obey a traffic signal), violate any of the restrictions on your license, or are involved in a crash you caused or contributed to.

  • First offense: Your license may be suspended or you may receive additional restrictions. Additional restrictions may include additional passenger restrictions and additional reductions on the hours you may operate without supervision.
  • Second offense: Your license will be suspended for 30 days.

Any time you have a conviction, violation, or crash your 12-month period to have a clean driving record, which is required to advance to a full license, will start over. Any time your license is suspended or revoked, your 12-month period to hold an intermediate license will start over.

4. Full license

How do I get a full license?

  • Be at least 17 years old.
  • Keep your intermediate license for at least 12 consecutive months immediately before applying for a full license.
  • Maintain a clean driving record for at least 12 consecutive months immediately before applying for a full license.
  • Complete 10 hours of supervised driving while holding your intermediate license. At least two of those hours must be between sunset and sunrise. The Parent’s Supervised Driving Guide is an excellent tool you can use to track those supervised driving hours!

Once you turn 18 you can obtain a full license without meeting these requirements.

* Adult supervision means your parent, guardian, custodian, an immediate family member at least 21 years of age, a driver education instructor, or a person at least 25 years with written permission from your parent, guardian, or custodian. The supervising adult must possess a valid driver’s license. At no time can you use any electronic communication or entertainment device while driving (except equipment permanently installed in the vehicle), or carry more passengers than the number of seatbelts in your vehicle.