How to Get an Iowa Driver's Permit

Like most states, Iowa requires all underage drivers to participate in a Graduated Driver Licensing program. This program states that those under 18 must obtain a learner’s permit that graduates to a full license as the driver gains experience and age in order to drive legally in the state. To obtain a driver’s permit, there are certain steps that must be followed. Here is a simple guide to getting an Iowa driver’s permit:

Learner’s permit

In order to apply for a learner’s permit in Iowa, drivers must be at least 14 years of age, and must be either currently enrolled in a driver’s education course that is state-approved, or have already completed a course. The learner’s permit is valid for four years, and must be held for at least 12 months before the driver may apply for the next level in the graduated driver licensing program.

The driver’s education course must include at minimum of 30 hours of instruction in a classroom, six hours of laboratory instruction, four hours of substance abuse training, and three hours of behind-the-wheel instruction.

While using the learner’s permit, the driver must complete 20 hours of supervised practice, including at least two hours at night. All driving must take place under the supervision of a licensed driver who is at least 25 years old. If the supervisor is a family member, that person can be as young as 21 years old in order to supervise.

In order to apply for a learner’s permit, an Iowa teen must bring required legal documents, as well as written consent from a parent or legal guardian to their written exam appointment. They will also be given a vision test, and must pay a $6 fee.

Required documents

When you arrive at the Iowan DMV to take a driver’s permit exam, you must bring the following legal documents:

  • Proof of identity, such as a birth certificate, or a valid U.S. passport.

  • A document that proves social security number, such as a social security card or a W-2 form.

Passing the exam

The Iowa written exam covers all of the traffic laws, road signs, and driver safety information that is necessary for driving on the roads. It also covers state-specific laws that residents of Iowa need to know in order to drive safely and legally.

The Iowa driver’s manual provided by the Department of Transportation covers all the information that a student needs in order to pass the learner’s permit exam. They also provide several practice exams, both online or through an iPhone or Android device app, that can help students gain confidence before they take the exam.

In order to move on to the intermediate license, a student driver must be at least 16 years old, and have had the instructional permit for a total of one year. Additionally, they must show a clean driving record for at least the six consecutive months prior to applying for the intermediate license. The final stage of the Iowa graduated license program is the full license, which can be earned at age 17.


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