Iowa defines distracted driving as anything that takes the driver’s eyes off of the road. Texting while driving is one of the biggest distractions on the road today. It increases the likelihood that you will get into a crash because you use visual, manual, and cognitive distractions to text and drive. Other things that are considered distracted driving in Iowa include:

  • Changing music
  • Applying makeup
  • Reading
  • Eating
  • Updating your status on social media sites

In the State of Iowa, it is illegal for all drivers who hold a learners permit or an intermediate license to use a cell phone. This includes both handheld and hands free devices. Furthermore, it is illegal for drivers of all ages to text or email while driving. This means no reading, writing, or typing a text message or email while operating a motor vehicle.

There are a couple of exceptions to these laws. The first exception is that a hands free device or GPS system can be used by drivers who operate with a regular license to receive safety information, such as weather alerts, traffic, and emergencies. In addition, if you come to a complete stop in a safe area on the side of the road, you may use your cell phone to make phone calls, email, or text.


  • Learners permit holders and intermediate license holders cannot use a cell phone at all, including a hands free device
  • Drivers with a regular license may use a cell phone to make calls or receive information through a hands free system or stop on the side of the road to do so


  • Safety information such as weather alerts, emergency, and traffic information may be received through a hands free device or GPS for drivers who hold a regular license
  • Pull over to the side of the road and come to a complete stop in order to use your cell phone without a hand free device

In Iowa, a police officer may pull you over if they see you violating one of the laws above, without having seen you commit another violation. There are hefty fines imposed, especially if you cause a serious accident.


  • $30 fine
  • If you cause a serious accident you can be fined up to $1,000

In the State of Iowa, it is illegal for drivers of all ages to text and drive. The state is working to reduce fatal accidents due to distracted driving. Because of this, authorities recommend that you pay full attention to the road and make your call or text before you get behind the wheel or after you arrive at your destination. Avoid temptation by putting your cell phone away while you drive. It is better to be safe for yourself and those around you while you drive.

This article originally appeared on as Cell Phones and Texting: Distracted Driving Laws in Iowa and was authored by Valerie Johnston.

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