Drivers ed in Iowa is required for new teen drivers as part of the graduated driver’s license (GDL) program. Unlike in some states, drivers ed online courses are not recognized as approved programs and will not meet the state’s requirements. According to state law, Iowa residents who are minors cannot qualify for a drivers license without completing a state-approved education program. Multiple types of licensing programs are available to young drivers, including courses taught in public schools and by private third-party providers or home-school teachers.

Enrolling in an approved drivers education program provides several benefits to new drivers. Student drivers can expect to learn about safe driving techniques, basic motor vehicle operation and important laws that govern the roadways. After successfully completing the course, the student can take his or her certificate of completion to the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) to continue along the process of receiving a full driver’s license. Read on to learn more about driving courses for teens in Iowa.

Who needs to take drivers ed in Iowa?

Drivers ed classes in Iowa are only required for new drivers applying for their first driver’s license if they are younger than 18 at the time of application. A drivers ed test and course are not required for adults applying for a driver’s license for the first time.

At most schools, young drivers can sign up for an approved education program after meeting the state’s other requirements, such as being at least 14 years of age. All student drivers in Iowa must hold a learner’s permit before they can participate in an approved education program.

Types of Drivers Ed Classes in Iowa

New drivers can choose between an Iowa teen driving school run by a third party or a course at a public or private school. Most private educational centers offer adult drivers ed and programs specifically geared toward teen drivers getting behind the wheel for the first time. However, some public schools that offer approved courses may limit enrollment to students already attending the school.

Parents who home-school their teens can become certified to provide parent-taught drivers ed to their children if they can demonstrate having taught the teen continuously over the last year. To qualify for this option, the prospective teachers must possess a valid driver’s license and follow the state’s certification process to ensure that the new driver will cover all of the topics necessary to safely learn how to operate a motor vehicle.

What will you learn in an Iowa drivers ed school?

All state-approved driver education course options must cover the same basic topics so that every new driver receives the same information. While some online drivers ed course programs may cover all of the necessary material, they do not provide behind-the-wheel training, which is required in Iowa. Student drivers can expect to learn about how to operate standard motor vehicles and troubleshoot common problems with their vehicles under a variety of conditions.

New drivers will also learn about the laws governing roadways in Iowa and the consequences for breaking various laws, from parking citations to jail time for driving under the influence (DUI). In addition to these topics, all Iowa drivers ed course programs are required to include discussion on substance abuse, railroad-crossing safety, dealing with pedestrians and more.

Iowa Drivers Education Requirements

To be approved by IDOT, all drivers ed school programs must offer a minimum of 30 classroom-based instruction hours in addition to at least six laboratory hours, three of which must specifically be behind-the-wheel training. State law mandates that all drivers education classes reserve at least four of the classroom-based hours for discussing driving under the influence (DUI) and substance abuse issues.

All courses must also incorporate at least 20 minutes of classroom time covering railroad-crossing information. Teens cannot skip any portion of the course if they want to receive a certificate.

Benefits of an Iowa Driver Education Course

The benefits of enrolling in an IA teen drivers ed program extend beyond simply qualifying for the next level of the GDL program. Unlike many adult drivers education programs, teen programs for new drivers provide training and instruction from the very beginning, allowing even the most inexperienced driver to eventually get behind the wheel.

Some drivers enrolled in a state-approved course may also qualify for a small discount on their auto insurance from their insurance provider after successfully completing the program. Some schools may also offer school credit for completing one of the courses offered by the school.

How to Enroll in an Iowa Driver Ed School

The procedure for enrolling in a DMV drivers ed program is determined by the course provider, as IDOT does not set statewide standards for enrollment. Since IDOT does not accept drivers ed online classes as adequate education, all students must attend a course in person.

While some in-person courses allow for students to sign up for their courses online, many require that students call or sign up in person. Students planning to take a course from a parent who typically home-schools them must follow a different process, certifying the parent-teacher instead of enrolling in an outside course.

Iowa DMV Drivers Ed Certificates

In most cases, the drivers education school providing the approved program will issue Iowa teen drivers the required completion certificate. Students completing drivers ed through a parent-taught program will have to take proof of passing the necessary exams to IDOT to receive the necessary state-approved certification. Once obtained, drivers must present this certificate along with the other necessary application materials to IDOT in order to receive their provisional license.

Upon completion of a parent-taught education program, students must send proof of all passed driving exams and a copy of the student’s driving log to IDOT, along with the Iowa DOT Application for Parent-Taught Driver Education Program Completion form. To receive the completion certificate, this material must be mailed to:

Iowa Department of Transportation
Office of Driver Services
P.O. Box 9204
Des Moines, IA 50306

Drivers Ed for New Iowa Residents

Drivers who have completed a program for teen or adult drivers ed online in another state will have to enroll in an Iowa education program in person to meet state requirements. Teen drivers who completed driver ed school in their previous state of residence with a program that is considered equivalent in content and quality to Iowa-approved programs may be exempt from having to take the course again. In this situation, drivers with certificates of completion issued from other states can visit a nearby IDOT licensing agency or any approved course instructor to validate the certificate.

Iowa Drivers Ed vs. Traffic School

The driver education program required by new teen drivers is different than traffic school primarily enrolled in by adult drivers. In most cases, high school drivers ed is limited to state residents younger than 19 who have not held a driver’s license in the past. These courses cover all the basic topics necessary for students to become comfortable operating motor vehicles in a variety of conditions. In Iowa, this type of education program is required for teens after they have received their learner’s permits and before they can apply for a provisional license.

Traffic school is more like drivers education for adult drivers who have faced some difficulty on the road or who would like to freshen up their defensive driving knowledge. Students in traffic school often have to already possess a valid driver’s license in order to be eligible for enrollment. Sometimes, the court will require a driver to complete traffic school in order to keep or regain his or her driver’s license.

Iowa Driver Education Fees

Drivers ed prices for state-approved education courses vary from program to program and should be inquired about before enrollment. Drivers ed classes taught at public schools or by parent-teachers are generally the most affordable option.

home-schooled students are required to pay the same course fees as students signing up through their local public school. Private third-party course providers generally ask for fees in the hundreds of dollars but may offer students more flexibility in course planning.

Last updated on Thursday, May 16 2019.

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