Being the driver of a vehicle in Iowa often means traveling on many types of roads, including through agricultural and city areas. You'll have to adjust to different conditions and know which rules apply along the way.
Don't risk traffic accidents and tickets. Protect your driver's license by learning more about the law of the road. You can also find tips and traffic regulations through the Iowa Department of Transportation.
Iowa Laws for Motor Vehicles
The state driving rules appear in Title VIII, Subtitle 2 of the Iowa Code. See the statutes for common traffic violations, vehicle requirements, and more in the chart below.
Speed Limits and Speeding in Iowa
With long highways and interstates, driving through Iowa can be an exercise in patience. But speeding can be dangerous even on straight roads that stretch for miles. You might get pulled over by law enforcement or accelerate into an auto wreck.
State law sets default speed limits for roads that don't already have a posted speed limit or local rule, such as:
- 20 mph in business zones
- 25 mph in residential zones
- 25 mph in school zones
- 45 mph in a suburban area
- 65 mph on divided multi-lane highways
- 70 mph on interstate highways
- 55 mph on other road types, including unpaved secondary roads
A traffic ticket for speeding can have various penalties depending on how fast you were driving above the limit. The basic fine amount ranges from $30 to well over $200 at high speeds. Surcharges and court fees also add to the total cost of a ticket.
You could also get a ticket for drag racing or careless driving if you speed. On the other end of the speed spectrum, a peace officer might cite you for driving slower than the minimum speed limit.
Driving in Iowa's City Streets
The traffic rules and potential hazards change when driving in Ames, Des Moines, Iowa City, or another hub.
When driving in the city, consider taking extra precautions, such as:
- Slow down at intersections and safety zones to watch for pedestrians with the right of way, even if there is no clearly marked crosswalk or traffic control signal
- Obey all parking regulations and signs to prevent towing and parking tickets.
- Drive slowly in poor weather conditions like snow and ice
- Turn on your headlamps in conditions with poor visibility, even if the city lights seem bright enough
- Pull over to the right shoulder if an emergency vehicle with flashing lights approaches you on a single-lane road (Iowa Code section 321.324). If parked cars line the street, slow down and move as far to the right side of the lane as possible.
Local ordinances may differ slightly from the statewide code of Iowa. Watch for traffic signs and signal devices that can help show you the rules of the road.
Fighting Iowa Traffic Tickets
Getting a ticket in Iowa, whether for reckless driving, running a stop sign, or violating the speed restrictions, can damage your driving record, raise your insurance rates, and risk license revocation. A violation could even lead to your arrest. You can consider legal defense if you face a ticket or criminal offense like drunk driving.
Many traffic law attorneys in Iowa help drivers dispute their cases. A lawyer can examine the evidence and why the police pulled you over. They can explain your rights before you decide how to proceed.