What Is the Driving Age in Iowa?

Teens in Iowa can begin driving through the graduated driver's license program at age 14 and receive a full license at 17.
Written by Sophie Boka
Reviewed by Kathleen Flear
Like most states, Iowa has implemented the graduated driver's license program, which guides teens toward their unrestricted license through a three-stage process that they can begin at age 14.
For rural and suburban teens, a driver’s license signifies a ticket to freedom. Yet in the U.S., this ticket isn’t granted universally. The minimum driving age along with other licensure requirements varies from state to state. So if you’re a teen preparing to hit the road, brush up on your state’s regulations.
Here to help you out is
, the licensed broker app to help drivers find affordable
car insurance
. We’ve created a short guide to Iowa’s driving age, including what you need to know to move through each stage of the graduated driver's license program (GDL) and finally earn that freedom. Then, a handy tip on how to score cheap
car insurance in Iowa
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What is the driving age in Iowa?

In Iowa, you can enter into the graduated driver's license program beginning at age 14 by getting your permit.
Get some supervised driving time and a driver’s ed course under your belt, and come 16, you can apply for your intermediate driver’s license.
And finally, once you meet the requirements, drivers 17 years of age and older can apply for their unrestricted license.
If you’re 14 or younger, that all probably sounds like a lifetime. We get it, we were there once, too. But note that you’re pretty lucky—Iowa has one of the youngest driving ages in the nation!

What is the graduated driver's license program in Iowa?

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
research has found that car accidents are the second leading cause of death for young people in America. This statistic may be dark. But with action, it’s preventable.
To address this issue, the GDL program was introduced. The GDL program offers young drivers paced practice to help ease them onto the roads. The hope is that this will build stronger drivers and reduce the rate of car crashes and fatalities. 
Each state offers its own program, however, the program generally follows these three stages:
  • Learner stage: Supervised driving with a learner’s permit
  • Intermediate stage: Limited unsupervised driving with an intermediate driver’s license
  • Unrestricted stage: Full privilege driving with unrestricted/restricted standard driver’s license

How to get your instruction permit in Iowa

All prospective drivers under age 18 must follow the GDL program authorized by the Iowa Department of Transportation (Iowa DOT).
To begin the first phase and earn your permit, you must be at least 14 years of age. All teens over 14 must then pass both a knowledge and visiontest
You can take the knowledge test in one of three ways:
If you’d prefer to take the test at home, you must have an internet-connected computer available. The test cannot be completed on a phone or tablet. And your parents must submit
an application
Once the application is approved, you will receive a link to the test. The link will expire after 72 hours, so make sure you’ve studied
Iowa’s Driver’s Manual
! Upon completion, you’ll be emailed your results and further instructions.
Pass all the exams? Great! Now you can schedule an appointment with the DOT to get your permit!
But before you go, make sure you come prepared with the
necessary documents
  • Your primary form of identity
  • Proof of residency
  • Proof of your Social Security number
Show up for your appointment, provide the necessary documentation, and you’ve done it! You’ve completed phase one. Time to move on to phase two.

Learner’s permit restrictions

The permit is just the first step. While it does permit you some driving privileges, it’s not a full license.
With your permit, you must drive a non-commercial vehicle with supervision at all times, and your supervisor must be a fully licensed driver. And in addition to your supervisor, you are only allowed to have as many passengers as there are seat belts installed in your vehicle.
Your phone may be tempting, but don’t touch it. It’s against the law to use any screens while driving, other than any directive screen installed in your vehicle for driving purposes.
Test your limits? If convicted of a moving violation or upon violating any other restrictions, you’ll face consequences
  • First offense: You will receive a safety advisory letter or have your permit suspended.
  • Second offense: Your permit will be suspended for a minimum of 30 days. Of course, like any driver, depending on the incident, your permit can also be revoked.

How to get your first-year restricted driver’s license in Iowa

So, you have your permit, and you’ve been getting some practice driving with supervision. What’s next? 
You can now earn your first-year restricted license. To get yours, here’s what you’ll need to do:
  • Be at least 16 years old or
  • Complete a state-approved driver’s ed course
  • Hold your Iowa permit for at least 12 months and maintain a clean record for 6 consecutive months
  • Provide a completed guardian consent form
  • Complete 20 hours of supervised driving (can include driver’s ed hours), two of which much be at night
Check, check, and check? You’re ready for your restricted license! Just
make an appointment
with your
driver’s license issuance site
and stop by with the necessary paperwork.
Key Takeaway Always be prepared with the necessary paperwork!

First-year restricted license restrictions

While you can drive without supervision now, you can’t drive without it between 12:30 am and 5 am. If you must drive during these hours for work or school, your parents can submit a
form for a waiver
that must be in the vehicle whenever driving during these hours.
Like with the permit, you can’t look at any screens other than those installed in your car. You also still can’t drive with more passengers than there are seat belts installed
Some students may see a sticker on the back of their license that indicates a
passenger restriction
. This basically means that for the first six months, you can’t drive with more than one non-relative minor in the vehicle, unless you are being supervised by an adult.

Full privilege Iowa driver’s license

Woohoo! You made it to the final stage! We knew you could do it.
You must be at least 17 years old to apply for this license. You must also:
  • Satisfy all the requirements for holding an intermediate license 
  • Consecutively hold your intermediate license for a minimum of 12 months
  • Keep a clean driving record for the 12 months before applying for your full license
  • Complete at least 10 hours of supervised driving with your intermediate license, and two of these hours must be completed at night
  • Provide the aforementioned parental consent form
Once 18, you no longer need to meet these requirements to apply. However, if 18 or younger, “under eighteen” will be noted on your license. If 21 or younger, you will see “under twenty-one.”
To get your full license, just make an appointment at an issuance site, take the test, and once you pass, you’re good to go!


Some minors may be eligible for a minor license if they meet the following requirements:
  • Are at least 14.5 years of age
  • Complete a state-approved driver’s ed course
  • Hold their permit and a clean record for 6 months prior to applying
  • Live at least one mile from school or work at a farm of equal distance
  • If applicable, complete a driving test (usually required by driver’s ed or if one completes the Parent Taught Driver’s Ed program)
  • Submit a completed
    Affidavit for School License
    signed by the relevant school authorities
Meet the requirements? Then go ahead and schedule an appointment.
Once you receive this license, you’ll be able to drive directly to and from school or school functions within your school district or a contiguous district. You are allowed to drive to and from work, within a 50-mile radius, and to and from the closest bus stop, as well. \
And of course, you can stop for fuel if need be, but only on the path to any of these locations.

How to save on car insurance in Iowa

You’ve got your license! But before you hop in that vehicle, there’s one more thing to discuss:
car insurance
. All drivers are required by state law to take out a policy, and teen drivers are certainly no exception.
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“I was worried that adding my 16-year-old daughter would spike my insurance rates. I called and spoke to Tim, who was pleasant to work with and got me new rate savings.
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Yes, some can. Starting at 14, prospective drivers can begin driving with licensed adult supervision.
No, you cannot begin to drive by yourself with a permit in Iowa. You can only begin to drive on your own with a restricted license, and that license comes with restrictions, as suggested by its name.
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