While the myriad rules and regulations enforced by the Iowa Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) apply to drivers of all ages and stages, the state imposes some special requirements and restrictions on older drivers.
Iowa state rules are explained in more detail below, but a number of them focus on identifying and handling older drivers who may have become unsafe behind the wheel.
Special rules apply to older drivers who seek to renew their licenses.
Time limits: Drivers age 18 through 72 must renew every eight years. Those age 73 must renew every seven years; age 74 every six years, age 75 every five years; age 76 every four years; age 77 every three years; and age 78 and older every two years.
Vision test: Required at renewal. MVD personnel will conduct a vision test free, or drivers can have an exam performed by an outside vision specialist, who must complete a Vision Report and conduct the exam within 30 days of the renewal request.
Written test: May be required if driver is the subject of an unsafe driving investigation.
Road test: May be required if there has been a change in the driver’s health or the license does not reflect his or her current medical condition.
For more information specifically for older drivers, see the booklet published by the Iowa Department of Transportation, “Driver’s License Renewal in Iowa.”
The MVD can place restrictions or conditions on a person’s driver's license after administering a driving test and discussing possible restrictions with him or her.
The most common restriction for older drivers is to require glasses or corrective contact lenses.
In Iowa, other common requirements the MVD may impose on older drivers include:
The Iowa MVD will accept a request to re-examine a driver from any source who has personal knowledge of his or her skills and abilities. However, the source of such requests will not be kept confidential.
Those who wish to make a request for re-examination must fill out a form in person at a local MVD office. It is advisable to phone first to be sure a particular office handles such investigations.
For information on how to get back a license that has been suspended or revoked in Iowa, see the MVD"s page on suspension and revocations.
Parking placards and license plates can be issued to drivers with impaired mobility if a licensed medical practitioner certifies the condition.
The placards and plates are also available for those who:
Steps required to obtain a disabled placard or plate are:
The MVD website has a wealth of information for Iowa drivers, including explanations of licensing and car registration requirements.
Of special interest for older drivers is the downloadable booklet, “Driving With Diminished Skills,” which includes advice on recognizing and assessing vision and cognitive impairment and conditions that may affect driving and the MVD web page dedicated to Senior Drivers.
You can use Nolo’s Lawyer Directory to find a local lawyer experienced in representing older people who need help with auto accidents or traffic tickets in Iowa.