Rules of the road
Iowa’s rules of the road can be found in Iowa’s Driver Manual which covers such topics as signage, railroad crossings, road work zones, pavement markings and other lane controls, parking, and approaching emergency or maintenance vehicles. To view a copy of the manual, click here or visit the Iowa DOT's Office of Driver Services' (ODS) Web site at http://www.iowadot.gov/MVD/ods/dlmanual/dlmanual.pdf. To test your knowledge of the rules of the road, the Iowa DOT's Motor Vehicle Division has also produced a workbook for seniors that includes a multiple choice and true/false questionnaire. To view a copy of the workbook, click here or visit http://www.iowadot.gov/ods.
It is illegal in Iowa to drive with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or above. The limit is lower for commercial drivers and drivers under the age of 21. In Iowa, a DUI is an OWI, which means "Operating While Intoxicated". The Iowa OWI law includes alcohol or drugs or both. While the OWI specifies a .08 BAC in the case of alcohol, it is illegal to drive with any amount of a controlled substance such as marijuana, cocaine or methamphetamine present in the driver's blood.
It is difficult to calculate how many drinks it takes to reach the OWI limit. There are many factors that contribute to an individual’s BAC level including weight, sex, body-fat percentage, and the time interval between drinks. Studies show a person’s BAC could go up as much as .05 percent for each drink taken.
A first OWI in Iowa is punishable by up to one year in jail. Offenders will spend a minimum of 48 hours in jail. However the court may impose a harsher penalty in some cases. There is also a fine between $500-$1,000, and a required substance abuse evaluation that must be paid by the offender. Upon conviction, a person’s driver’s license will be revoked for 180 days (6 months) and if the BAC was between .08-.10, the person will be given a temporary restricted license to drive to and from work. The court may also order the installation of an ignition interlock device at the owner’s expense. This device prevents the car from starting if the person has any measurable amount of alcohol on their breath.
For more information on Iowa’s OWI law, click here or visit the Iowa DOT's Web site at http://www.iowadot.gov/owi.htm.
Move over law
Iowa drivers are required to "move over" or "slow down" when approaching an authorized emergency vehicle that is stopped on our roadways. Read more about this law and how you are required to react on different types of roadways (i.e., interstate, two-lane) by clicking here or visiting the Web site at http://www.iowadot.gov/rules/rulesoftheroad.htm.
Right turn on red
According to state law (Iowa Code §321.257(2)(a)), a driver may make a right turn on red only after coming to a full stop after yielding to pedestrians and other road users unless there is a NO TURN ON RED sign posted. This law applies to red arrows as well as circulator red indications.
Drivers have a responsibility to operate their vehicles safely and lawfully in school zones or wherever they encounter a school bus discharging or loading school children. Under the Iowa Code §321.372, the following applies.
- On a two-lane road and the school bus is displaying flashing yellow lights. Flashing yellow lights are an indication that the bus is going to stop. It is illegal to pass a school bus from behind when yellow lights are flashing. When approaching a school bus traveling in the opposite direction, a driver must slow the vehicle to 20 mph or less when yellow lights are seen, and be prepared to stop when the stop arm is extended and red lights flash.
- On a two-lane road and the school bus is displaying flashing red lights and an extended stop arm. These lights and arm indicate the bus is letting passengers on or off. It is illegal to pass a school bus from behind or from the opposite travel direction under these conditions. A driver must come to a complete stop at least 15 feet from the bus and remain stopped until the vehicle's flashing red lights deactivate and the stop arm is retracted. At all times, drivers should remain alert for pedestrians.
- On a roadway with two or more lanes in each direction. A driver must stop when approaching the school bus from behind when yellow or red lights flash. However, under these roadway conditions, drivers need not stop when meeting a school bus traveling in the opposite direction. School bus drivers are not permitted to let passengers on or off the bus in situations where they must cross multiple lanes of traffic.
Child safety restraints
Older road users are often grandparents and may find themselves transporting their grand children in their car. Iowa Code §321.446 requires all children under 6 years old to use an approved child restraint device while riding in a motor vehicle. The proper child safety seat depends on the child’s age and height. Only children 6 years old or older may use the vehicle’s seat belt. Following is information on what restraints Iowa law requires.
Iowa’s Required Restraint by Age Group
|Child Age||Required Restraint|
|Under 1 year (and weighing less than 20 lbs.)||Must be secured in a rear-facing child restraint system.|
|1 year to 6 years old||Must be secured in a child restraint system (a safety seat or boosterseat – NOT a seat belt).|
|6 years to 11 years old||Must be secured in a child restraint system or by a safety belt.|
Additional information about the Iowa child restraint law can be accessed at the following links.
Assistance with child safety restraints
Proper installation of a child safety seat is not as easy as it looks, and an improperly installed child seat can do more harm than good. Following are Web links that will direct drivers to locations where trained technicians can ensure the child safety seat is installed correctly.
- A child safety seat inspection station can be accessed by clicking here or visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) Web site at http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/cps/cpsfitting/FindFitting.cfm.
- Iowa’s Child Passenger Safety Network provides several resources on child passenger safety issues. For more information, click here or visit http://www.blankchildrens.org.
- For information on ease of use for particular models, click here or visit http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/CPS/cssrating/index.cfm.
- Safe Kids Des Moines also has information on child passenger safety fitting stations. For more information, click here or visit their Web site at http://www.dsmsafekids.org.