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Iowa Driving and Traffic Laws

Driving and traffic laws in Iowa are straightforward and simple to follow, but you must know what they are before you can do that. It's important to know and follow these laws. First and foremost, this is for your own safety and that of your family, friends, and other drivers, but keeping a clean driving record will also allow you to keep your auto insurance premiums low.

While most tickets and moving violations in IA do not result in automobile accidents, car insurance companies can still raise your insurance rates if your receive one of these. When you break the law with your vehicle, it shows that you are willing to take risks when you drive. This indicates to a vehicle insurance company that you are more likely to get into an accident, because of those risks.

Iowa Traffic Basics - Points

Iowa uses a point system to keep track of your moving violations and tickets. Most violations are assigned a certain number of points. When you accumulate a certain number of points, you face penalties beyond the particular ticket and fine. You can even have your license suspended.

Some examples of Iowa's point system in practice are as follows. If you are caught exceeding the posted speed limit by somewhere between 16 and 25 miles per hour, your license will be assessed 5 points. If you are caught driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs, you will be assessed 4 points. Leaving the scene of an accident without offering help will earn you 5 points, as will causing a serious injury while operating your vehicle. There are more details on this system available from Iowa's Motor Vehicle Department.

There are several ways you can get your license suspended through the accumulation of points and/or driving offenses. If you get more than 6 points in the time period specified by law, you will face at least a 2 year suspension of your driving license. Having 6-7 points is worth a 2 year suspension, 8-9 points will get you a 3 year suspension, and more than 10 points will get you a suspension of 4 years or more, up to a possible total of 6 years.

Note that the points for each violation stay on your record for one year. Thus, by driving safe and avoiding subsequent tickets, you can get the points removed from your record and be considered a safe driver again.

In addition, if you have three or more moving violations in any 12 month period or six or more in any 24 month period, your license will also be suspended. This will happen even if you do not accumulate the minimum number of points to earn the suspension.

When your license is suspended in IA for traffic violations, you are labeled a habitual offender. This is serious, with legal ramifications as well as ones pertaining to your auto insurance. Most car insurance companies will raise your rates or hesitate to offer you automobile insurance at all after you have earned this label.

Having your license suspended in Iowa is serious, too. If you are caught driving on a suspended license, you face a prison term of up to two years. Iowa's government takes seriously its responsibility to protect its citizens, and is willing to forcibly keep habitual offenders off the road if that is what it takes.

Also, you won't automatically get your license back once the term of your suspension is up. Basically, you will start all over from the beginning. In addition to paying the relevant fees, you'll need to pass the in-car driving test, a written test, and a vision test in order to get your license back. You'll also need to show proof of financial responsibility, which usually takes the form of automobile insurance.

Note that not all traffic tickets count toward your license or toward a possible habitual offender status. For a speeding ticket to count, you must exceed posted limits by at least 16 miles per hour. Parking violations and seat belt violations, including those pertaining to child restraint, also do not contribute to your total.

Driving Under the Influence in Iowa

As in most places in the United States, driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is a serious offense in Iowa. Statistics show that these drivers do not have the control or decision making skills to drive well, and therefore cause more accidents than sober drivers. Because these accidents tend to be some of the worst and IA wants to keep their population safe, they have stiff penalties for being caught driving like this.

Whether or not a driver is drunk at any given time is assessed by measuring his Blood Alcohol Content. This measures the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream and, therefore, how drunk you are at any given time. Officers can administer a variety of chemical tests including a breath test, urine test, or blood test to determine this number.

Note that, by having an Iowa driver's license, you automatically consent to allowing an officer to test your Blood Alcohol Content at any time and at their discretion. If you refuse the test, your license will automatically be revoked for one year. Thus, it's important that drivers in the state know this and refrain from driving drunk. If you are pulled over under a suspicion of driving under the influence, make sure you agree to any and all testing that the officer requires.

For drivers over the age of 21, a Blood Alcohol Content over 0.08% will earn you a citation and arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol. Because drinking alcohol is illegal for all people under the age of 21, Iowa has a zero tolerance law in place for these drivers. Anyone under 21 can only have a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.02%. Note that this is so low that any alcohol in someone's system will show up and earn them a citation for driving under the influence. Commercial drivers have an allowance somewhere in the middle. They will be charged with driving under the influence if their Blood Alcohol Content is 0.04% or higher. In addition, anyone who tests positive for illegal drugs will be charged with driving under the influence

Penalties for driving under the influence vary based on how many offenses you have. Usually, these charges involve hiring a lawyer and going to court, as well as raised insurance rates. Thus, it's important to make sure you never drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Other Important Iowa Driving Laws

Iowa also has important laws about child safety restraints and seat belt use in general that all motorists should be aware of. They do not prohibit cell phone usage while driving, though encourage motorists to focus on the road, instead. They also do not require motorcyclists to wear a helmet while driving.

By this time, you should have all the information you need to drive safely and avoid traffic tickets in Iowa. If you have further questions, be sure to check with the state's Motor Vehicle Department before you driver there. They should be able to answer any questions you have that are beyond the basics and should be able to provide you with a driver's handbook as well. Enjoy driving in Iowa, and be safe!

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