While some motorists regard driving as a basic right, the fact is that operating a motor vehicle is a privilege that must be earned and maintained by demonstrating safe and lawful driving. Under certain circumstances, an individual's Iowa driver's license may be suspended or revoked for a specific length of time, depending on the person's driving record or history, and the particular violation(s).
REASONS FOR DRIVER'S LICENSE SUSPENSIONS
There are a variety of reasons why your Iowa driver's license might be suspended. Some of these are related to specific driving violations, while others may be due to violation of other State laws. Following are some of the most common reasons for an Iowa driver's license to be suspended or revoked.
- Excessive Moving Violations. The state of Iowa operates on a point system, in which drivers accumulate points on their license for every moving violation they commit. If you accumulate points for three or more offenses in a 12 month period on your current driver record, your license will be suspended.
- Driving Under the Influence. Your Iowa driver's license will be suspended if you are found guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The length of the suspension depends on the severity of the violation and whether it is a first or repeat offense. If you fail the test (have a blood alcohol content of 0.08%) or refuse to take it, your license will be taken away immediately. If you are found guilty of DUI, your license can be revoked for six months to one year, depending on your previous record.
- Driving with a Suspended License or no License. Driving with a suspended license will lead to an increase in the length of the suspension, and you may also be imprisoned for up to five years. The duration of the additional suspension varies depending on the reason for the underlying suspension. Your driver's license may also be suspended if you do not have your license with you while you are driving.
- Driving without Insurance. All motor vehicles driven in Iowa must be properly insured. Failure to provide proof of valid auto insurance can result in your license being suspended.
- Other Driving-Related Violations. Your Iowa driver's license may also be suspended if you engage in reckless driving, are found to be at fault in a fatal accident, or if you abandon your vehicle on a public highway or if you have an out of state conviction against you.
- Physical or Psychological Disqualification. The DOT can order a re-examination of any person who may not be fit to drive. An individual's driving privileges may be suspended if the re-examination finds they are physically or psychologically unable to drive safely.
- Non-Driving Reasons for License Suspension. A variety of non-driving violations or issues can result in your license being suspended. These include: not responding to a Department of Transportation notice or not appearing in court; failing to pay traffic tickets, fines or surcharges; and not paying child support. Other reasons include providing false information on an application, lending your license to another person, using another person's license, altering your license in any way, allowing an unlawful use of your license and failure to pay outstanding debts to the DOT.
- Expulsion from School - If you are expelled from school your license can be suspended.
- Habitual recklessness or negligence - If you are involved in three or more accidents in a year or have accumulated three or more moving violations in a year's time, your license can be suspended.
- Habitual offender - If you have committed three or more moving traffic violations in a year's time or have played a role in three or more accidents in a year's time, you are liable to have your license suspended.
- Minor's Restricted License or Minor's School License - Your minor's license can be suspended after committing just one traffic violation. It is essential to note that a suspension or revocation of your minor's school or restricted license will also result in a suspension or revocation of your driving permit and/or any driving privileges you hold.
REASONS FOR MANDATORY REVOCATIONS
- Manslaughter while driving a motor vehicle.
- Using a motor vehicle to commit a crime.
- Fleeing from the scene of an accident and not stopping to give help when there is a personal injury or a fatal accident.
- Not stopping while being pursued by a law enforcement vehicle after being told to, and also going over the speed limit by 25mph or more.
- Getting a second conviction for reckless driving.
- Drag racing.
- Conviction of drug related offenses either in Iowa courts or an out of state court.
- Conviction or juvenile court action for drug related violations.
A habitual offender's license may be barred if you are guilty of three or more particular violations during a six year period. You may also be considered a habitual offender if you accumulate six or more moving violations in two years. Speeding tickets for the above will only be taken into account if you are going 15mph or more above the speed limit. If you continue to drive after being barred and are caught, you may face a jail term of two years. More information can be found here.
WHAT TO DO IF YOUR IOWA DRIVER'S LICENSE IS SUSPENDED
Having your Iowa driver's license suspended is a serious matter, and it is essential to adhere to State law in the event that your license is suspended. If you believe your license may be suspended due to one of the reasons listed above it is advisable to speak with a traffic ticket lawyer or a DUI-DWI lawyer.
The most important things to be aware of following a license suspension are:
- If your license has not already been taken away from you in court, you must surrender it to the Iowa Department of Transportation. You can surrender your license in person at a Driver License Station, or mail it to:
Office of Driver Services P.O. Box 9204 Des Moines, IA 50306-9204
- While your license is suspended, you are not permitted to drive. If you are found driving with a suspended license, you may be imprisoned for up to five years, and/or the length of your suspension may be increased.
- After your suspension is over, you will receive a written notice of restoration, with instructions on how to restore your license. Do not drive until you have completed the necessary steps and received a valid, replacement license from the Iowa DOT.
- You may be able to apply for a temporary restricted license while on suspension. You will have to show proof of insurance, pass the vision and knowledge tests and pay a reinstatement fee. If your license was revoked for operating a vehicle while intoxicated or drugged, you will have to fit an ignition interlock device on your car. You cannot apply for a work permit, if you are under 21 years and your license was revoked for having a blood alcohol content of over 0.02% and less than 0.08%. Persons under 18 years of age and those operating commercial vehicles are not eligible for work permits. Your temporary permit will be cancelled if you receive any moving traffic violations. If your license has been revoked for an OWI offense, you cannot apply for a work permit until the minimum eligibility period has passed. The minimum period ranges from 30 days to a year.
APPEALING A SUSPENSION
If your license is suspended and you wish to challenge the suspension, you may request a hearing in court. An administrative law judge or the DOT authorized administrator will hear your case, and determine whether your driver's license should be suspended or not. In addition, drivers whose license may be suspended due to accumulating excessive points may be eligible to enroll in a Driver Improvement Program. Completing a Driver Improvement Program removes points from the current driving record, and in some cases can enable an individual to avoid having his license suspended. If you owe money to the DOT or have defaulted on your child support payments, you will not be able to request a hearing.
It is also a good idea to seek the advice of a traffic ticket lawyer or a DUI-DWI lawyer, based on the reason for the suspension.
RESTORING YOUR LICENSE
You will receive a Notice of Restoration from the DOT after you have completed your suspension period. The notice will include complete instructions regarding how to get your license back. Generally, you will need to:
- Pay a restoration fee of $200. If you under 19 years of age, the fee is $50.The fee can be paid in person at a Driver License Station, You can also mail a check or money order payable to:
Office of Driver Services P.O. Box 9204 Des Moines, IA 50306-9204
- You will have to pass the knowledge test, driving exam and the vision screening test.
- You will also have to show proof of your finances by filing SR-22 or SR-23.
- Apply for a standard license renewal to obtain a new license.
Note that after you license is restored, you may be subject to a Probation Period during which any new violations may result in an additional suspension of your Iowa driver's license.