Everything You Need to Know About Iowa’s Texting and Driving Laws

Under Iowa’s driving law, texting while driving is a primary offense and can lead to a fine of $45.
Written by Amy Bobinger
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
In 2017, Iowa passed a bill that made it illegal to use your phone to read, write, or send messages while you’re driving. If you’re ticketed for distracted driving, you could get a fine of $45 for your first offense.
People who use handheld devices while they’re driving are four times more likely to get into a serious accident than people who don’t. The year that Iowa’s texting and driving law was first passed, the state had a total of 12,000 crashes thought to be caused by
distracted driving
While opponents say that these types of programs don’t work, Iowa’s numbers tell a different story—in 2020, there were fewer than 1,000 distracted driving accidents throughout the state. 
Texting and driving laws are different from state to state. So what are the texting and driving laws in Iowa?
Car insurance
super app
is here to break it all down for you, including whether there are any exceptions and what penalties you might face if you’re caught texting behind the wheel. We've also included information on how you could lower your
Iowa car insurance costs
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What are the texting and driving laws in Iowa?

In Iowa, you cannot use any handheld electronic devices to send, read, or write a message while you’re driving. Texting and driving is a primary offense, so if law enforcement sees you looking at your phone, they can pull you over and give you a ticket.
Drivers are allowed to use voice commands or other hands-free features to send messages from their phones while they are driving. If you’re over the age of 18, you can also use your phone to make phone calls or check your GPS. 
Texting and driving is a serious violation because it distracts you in three different ways: visually, manually, and cognitively.
  • Visual distractions take your eyes off  of the road
  • Manual distractions take your hands off of the wheel
  • Cognitive distractions take your mind off of your driving

What are the penalties for texting and driving in Iowa? 

According to
Iowa Code Section 805.8A
, if you’re ticketed for texting while driving in Iowa, you’ll receive a fine of $45
If your distracted driving leads to a crash where someone dies, you could also be facing a felony charge, with penalties including up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.

Are there exceptions to Iowa’s texting and driving law? 

Yes, there are exceptions to the texting and driving law in Iowa. The law does not apply to:
  • A public safety officer (such as an officer or EMT) who is performing official duties 
  • A health care professional who’s dealing with an emergency situation
  • Any driver who is receiving safety-related traffic, weather, or emergency alerts
If you need to send a text while you’re driving, you must stop your vehicle completely somewhere out of the traveled roadway. That means you cannot read, send, or write texts stopped at a red light or stop sign, for instance. Pull over somewhere safe, like a gas station. 

Are there special rules about texting and driving for young drivers? 

Yes, Iowa has expanded rules for young drivers. If you are under the age of 18, you cannot use handheld devices while you are driving. However, you can use your phone’s hands-free features if the phone is connected to equipment that’s permanently installed in the vehicle, like a Bluetooth system.
Key Takeaway: Texting and driving is illegal in Iowa, but you can still use your phone to text and use GPS if you’re over 18.

Can texting and driving raise my insurance premium?

If you’re ticketed for texting and driving in Iowa, you will probably see a spike in your insurance. Although a texting and driving ticket isn’t considered a
moving violation
in Iowa, it will still go on your
driving record
and may affect your insurance.
Let’s take a look at the numbers. In Iowa, the average annual rate for a driver with a
clean driving record
is $1,118. After a ticket for texting and driving, that average jumps to $1,413. That’s a $295 increase—or 26%!
To avoid getting a ticket or causing an accident, put away your phone anytime you’re driving. At the very least, opt for a hands-free option for phone calls, GPS navigation, and texting. This will help protect your driving record (and help you get some serious
car insurance discounts
), but more importantly, you’ll be protecting yourself, your passengers, and other drivers on the road.

How to save money on car insurance in Iowa

Getting a ticket for texting and driving in Iowa might not seem that expensive, but those costs can really add up, especially if it affects your car insurance. Luckily, Jerry is here to help you save on your insurance, even if your record is less than perfect! 
is an insurance broker, a
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It couldn’t be easier—once you choose the coverage and monthly payment that’s right for you, Jerry will help you with all of the paperwork needed to switch. They’ll even help you cancel your own policy, so there’s no need for an awkward break-up call to your old insurer.
And best of all? Jerry users save an average of $887 a year on their car insurance!
“My past tickets were making it hard to find affordable insurance. With
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No, you won’t go to jail for texting and driving in Iowa unless you commit a more serious violation, like causing injury to another person.
Texting and driving puts you and everyone else on the road at risk, so it’s very serious. In fact, the NHTSA estimates that distracted driving causes about 3,000 deaths a year. That number may be on the rise, as well—distracted driving fatalities rose 9.9% in the U.S. in 2019 compared to 2018.
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