For minors, the state of Iowa implements a graduated driver program. These programs are becoming more widespread across the U.S., as they are proven to be effective and safe ways to integrate minors into the responsibilities of driving.
A graduated driver program involves a number of steps, each with increasing responsibility and less supervision, until the regular driver’s license is earned. In Iowa, the Department of Transportation has outlined three major steps in the acquisition of a license. The first phase is the instruction phase. Minors over age 14 are able to apply for an Instruction Permit, provided they have the appropriate documentation, have parental consent, and pass vision and knowledge tests.
The vision test only verifies that the applicant can see well enough to drive without corrective eyewear. If the test is failed, then DOT may place a provision on the minor’s Instruction Permit, requiring him or her to wear the necessary eyewear. In most cases, however, these provisions are unnecessary.
The knowledge test covers material from the Iowa Driver’s Manual, regarding the laws, procedures, and requirements of driving in the state of Iowa. It is advisable to read and review the manual prior to taking the test. The entire Iowa Driver’s Manual, complete with all information required for passing the written exam, can be found in outline form on the Iowa Department of Transportation website. Each section of the manual is linked directly to the corresponding source material, making the resource extremely easy to use.
Parental consent can be acquired by taking a parent to an Iowa DOT location. If this is not possible, written consent may be granted and notarized, then turned into the DOT. You can get the written consent form under the Instruction Permit section of the site.
As for the documentation required for issuance of the Permit, two facts must be established and proved about the applicant. First, identity must be proved, which is usually done with a birth certificate. Your social security number must also be verified. This does not mean that you need to bring your social security card with you to the DOT; however, you must have the number either memorized or on your person. A state official will verify your number.
After you receive your Learner’s Permit, you will be able to drive under the supervision of a licensed adult who is over 21 and riding in the passenger’s seat. During this period of the graduated driver program, minors must complete a state-approved driver education course, as well as fulfill specific driving requirements. The Learner’s Permit must be held for at least 6 months before Iowa residents will qualify for an Intermediate License.
At 16, residents of Iowa become eligible for an Intermediate License. The individual will need to have upheld a clean driving record for at least 6 months while driving with a Learner’s Permit, and he or she must take a parental consent form to the DOT office with the Instruction Permit to apply for the Intermediate License.
At this point, most of the primary responsibilities of adult drivers are given to minors, with some notable exceptions. For instance, minors with an Intermediate License cannot drive without supervision from 12:30 a.m. to 5 a.m.
During this period, the student driver must complete 10 hours of supervised driving, as well as continue without crashing or being ticketed for at least one year before qualifying for a Full License. Once minors turn 17, if they have followed the graduated driver program with continuing parental consent and without any marks against their driving record, they become eligible for a Full License.