Iowa Texting and Driving Laws (All You Need to Know)

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Texting while driving is a sure way to get into an accident. 

Even if you just look at your phone for a second, that can already put you and everyone around you in danger. 

This is why the State of Iowa is doing everything it can to prevent any accidents caused by distracted driving. It’s not surprising, then, that there is a strict texting and driving law in the state. 

And as a responsible driver, you MUST obey this law. 

But how can you obey a law that you’re not familiar with?

Well, this is where we come in. 

Here, we’re going to tell you all you need to know about the Iowa texting and driving law. We’ll also talk about the penalties and other important information. 

So let’s begin!

Texting and Driving Law in Iowa

Iowa has only one distracted driving law — and it states…

“You can’t use a handheld electronic device to write, send, and view messages. You are also not allowed to play, watch, or access your electronic device while driving.” 

Basically, as long as you use your electronic device while driving, you are violating the texting and driving law. 

You are only allowed to access your electronic device IF your vehicle is pulled over outside of the roadway and in a safe place. Simply being at a stop on the roadway is still a violation. 

Texting and Driving Exemptions in Iowa

Every law has its exceptions — and for Iowa’s texting and driving law, people are allowed to use their electronic mobile devices IF:

  • The device is mounted or connected to navigation or a hands-free system. NOTE: This does not apply to drivers below 18 years old. 
  • You are a member of a public safety agency and are performing your duties
  • You are a health care professional in an emergency
  • You are receiving safety-related information such as emergency, traffic, and weather alerts

Texting and Driving Penalties in Iowa

The texting and driving law in Iowa is a primary offense. This gives a police officer permission to pull you over and give you a ticket if they simply see you using your electronic device while driving. 

Before July 2017, police officers weren’t allowed to pull you over if there was no other violation committed. Today, violation of the texting and driving law is reason enough to stop you. 

Now, if you are convicted of violating the law, you will be charged with the following penalties: 

  • For 18 and above: $30
  • For below 18 years old: $50

These fees can add up to $100 due to additional court costs. 

If you have caused major injury to someone, you will be asked to pay a $500 fine and undergo a license suspension of up to 90 days. 

If you have caused death due to texting while driving, you will be convicted of a felony with up to 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $1,000. You will also be given a license suspension for up to 180 days. 

Nonetheless, a violation of the texting and driving law in Iowa is not a moving violation. This means that normal offenses (without injuring or killing anybody) do not lead to a license suspension. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Want to know more? Check out this FAQ section for additional information on distracted driving in Iowa. 

Is eating and driving illegal in Iowa?

No, it isn’t illegal. However, it is highly discouraged because eating while driving is a form of distracted driving. 

Can you be on your phone at a red light in Iowa?

No, you can’t. Even if you are already at a full stop at a red light, you are still required to pull over outside the roadway to be able to use your phone.

Can you wear Airpods while driving in Iowa?

You can use your AirPods while driving in Iowa since you are allowed to use your phone or electronic device hands-free. 

However, we recommend lowering the volume of your AirPods so that you can still focus on driving. 

What are other distractions while driving?

Apart from what the Iowa law specifies, distracted driving can be in the form of: 

  • Eating or drinking (and no we don’t mean alcohol)
  • Arguing with someone over the phone/in the car
  • Getting something in your bag
  • Watching something from the dashboard
  • Pacifying your kids or pets
  • Changing songs or radio stations on the dashboard
  • Listening to loud music

This isn’t an exhaustive list. Just remember that distracted driving is any behavior that makes you lose focus on the road. 

And whatever that is, try as much as possible to avoid it to keep everyone safe. 

What are the different forms of distracted driving?

To help you avoid things that distract you from driving, you have to think about the different forms of distracted driving. These are:

  • Manual – this type of distraction makes you remove your hands off the wheel. For example, grabbing your bag from the back seat.
  • Visual – this keeps your eye away from the road. For example, grooming and looking in the mirror. 
  • Cognitive – this distracts your mind from the task at hand. For example, having a hot argument with someone on the phone or in the car with you. 

If you look closely, you’ll notice that texting and driving hit all 3 forms of distracted driving. This is probably the reason why Iowa puts so much focus on it. And should be the reason why you avoid it at all costs. 


And that was your complete guide to the Iowa texting and driving law. 

Even if this law only specifies the use of electronic devices, we urge you to avoid other distracted driving behaviors that might keep your eyes and hands from your task. 

If you have to pull away from the road just to take a call or send a message, do it. At the end of the day, it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

It’s always best to be a safe and responsible driver!

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