Driver's License Examination
The MVD may examine every new applicant for a driver’s license or any person holding a valid driver’s license when the MVD has reason to believe that the person may be physically or mentally incompetent to operate a motor vehicle, or whose driving record appears to the MVD to justify the examination. The examination may include a vision test (20/40 visual acuity is required in at least 1 eye), knowledge test, and driving skills test.
An applicant for a new or renewed noncommercial driver’s license may submit a vision report signed by a licensed vision specialist in lieu of the vision test.
Graduated Driver’s Licensing
Iowa has a system of graduated licensing for novice drivers.
At age 14, individuals are eligible for an instruction/learner’s permit.
- Permit holders may not drive unsupervised and must accumulate at least 20 (2 at night) hours of parental/guardian certified driving hours. Supervised drivers include a 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.
- A person possessing an instruction permit when he or she committed a moving violation or was involved in a collision must remain free of moving violations and not be involved in a collision for 6 months before he or she may be issued an intermediate license.
At age 16, individuals who have held a permit for at least 12 months, have completed driver education, and have passed the appropriate driving, written, and vision tests are eligible for an intermediate license.
- Intermediate license holders may not drive unsupervised between 12:30 a.m. and 5 a.m.
- For the first 6 months of licensure, intermediate license holders may not drive with more than one unrelated passenger under age 18, unless waved by a parent or guardian.
- Individuals must also accumulate an additional 10 (2 at night) hours of parental/guardian supervised driving in the intermediate stage.
Persons who were convicted of a moving violation or involved in a contributive traffic collision while holding an instruction permit or intermediate license are subject to a remedial driver improvement action or suspension of the permit or intermediate license.
At age 17, drivers are eligible for an unrestricted license who: (1) have held an intermediate license or a comparable license from another state for at least 12 months; (2) have been accident- and violation-free for at least 12 months; (3) have not had their license suspended or revoked; (4) have permission from a parent or guardian; and (5) present an affidavit by a parent/guardian attesting to the applicant’s driving experience.
Driver education is required for all license applicants under age 18.
Driver’s License Renewal
Except as otherwise provided, a driver’s license will have a random expiration date of 5, 6, 7 or 8 years from the issue year and expires on the licensee’s birthdate, and not to exceed the licensee’s 74th birthday. If the licensee is under the age of 17 years 11 months, the license expires 2 years from the licensee’s birthday in the year of issuance. If the licensee is 72 years of age or older, the license expires 2 years from the licensee’s birthday in the year of issuance. Licensees age 70 or older must appear in person for each renewal.
A person has 60 days to renew his or her license after the expiration date. Electronic renewal is permitted every other renewal.
Applicants with vision or other physical restrictions may be required to renew their license every 2 years.
A vision test or vision report signed by a licensed vision specialist is required.
The expiration date for persons who enter military service while holding a valid Iowa driver’s license is 6 months after separation from active duty.
The licenses of active duty military personnel may be extended until 6 months after separation from the military. Active duty military personnel must obtain a military service extension. A 5-year extension is available for military personnel and their families.
Types of Driver's Licenses
Persons between 16 and 18 years of age who are not in attendance at school and have completed an Iowa-approved course in driver education may be issued a restricted license for travel to and from work if necessary for the person to maintain the person’s present employment.
Special Instruction Permit: A person with a physical disability, who is not suffering from a convulsive disorder and who can provide a favorable medical report, may obtain a special instruction permit if the person’s license renewal was denied for failure to pass a required examination or because the MVD believed that the person would not be able to operate a motor vehicle safely by reason of physical or mental disability.
The MVD may issue a temporary permit to an applicant while the MVD is completing an investigation to determine all facts relative to applicant’s privilege to receive a driver’s license. The permit will be invalid and must be returned to the MVD when the applicant’s license is either issued or denied.
Classification of licenses:
Classes A and B: Commercial driver’s licenses for vehicles with a Gross Combination Weight Rating (GCWR) of 26,001 lbs. or more.
Class C: Commercial and non-commercial; valid for the operation of some CMVs placarded for hazardous materials or vehicles with a passenger design exceeding 15 passengers; any combination of vehicles with a GCWR of 16,000 lbs. or less excluding motorcycles, farm vehicles, fire vehicles, and motor homes solely for personal or family use.
Class D: Chauffeur license excluding motorcycles. Vehicles with a GCWR of 16,001 lbs. through 26,000 lbs.; vehicles less than 15-passenger design transporting passengers for wages, compensation, or hire; farm-controlled tractor trailer.
Class M: Motorcycle license.