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Iowa’s Graduated Driver’s License Program: FAQ for Teens

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of death for teenagers in this country. Although this is partially due to the fact that teens are young and thus unlikely to die from other causes like chronic disease, it is also because new drivers have limited experience and are more likely to cause devastating wrecks as a result.

Parents can protect their children and possibly get their teens’ car insurance rates reduced by enrolling them in a comprehensive driver’s education course. If you have teenagers, you may also want to sign them up for a defensive driving class. At the end of the day, experienced motorists are safe motorists.


Iowa's Graduated Driver's License Program: FAQ for Teens

Numerous studies show that defensive driving courses reduce the risk of accidents.

In an effort to support parents’ efforts and protect their teens, the state of Iowa has a graduated driver’s license (GDL) system. The GDL system applies to individuals who start driving prior to turning 18 years old. Read on to learn the answers to just a few of the most frequently asked questions regarding this program:

What Are the Steps of the GDL?

The graduated driver’s license system has three main stages, which all candidates must complete in order. The three steps are:

  • Obtaining an instruction permit;
  • Obtaining an intermediate license; and
  • Obtaining a full license.

What Is an Instruction Permit?

Teens who ultimately want to achieve their independence can get an instruction permit when they have turned 14 years old. According to the Iowa Department of Transportation, their parent or guardian must provide written authorization during the application process.

After passing a vision test and written exam, the candidate must provide proof of residency, as well as an acceptable form of identification and proof of a Social Security number. Once a teen obtains the instruction permit, he or she can drive at any time with adult supervision.

What Is an Intermediate License?

Upon turning 16, teenagers who have had an instruction permit for at least 12 months can apply for an intermediate license. This application process is a little more intensive than the one for the first stage of the GDL system and requires candidates to complete a state-approved driver education course, as well as 20 hours of supervised driving.

Individuals with an intermediate license may drive without adult supervision between the hours of 5 a.m. and 12:30 a.m. They may also drive at any time of day with adult supervision. In addition to having a valid driver’s license, the supervisor must be:

  • A parent, guardian, or custodian;
  • An immediate family member who is at least 21 years old;
  • A driver education instructor; or
  • An individual who is at least 25 years old and has written permission from the parent, guardian, or custodian to supervise.

 What Is a Full License?

 Teen drivers can apply for a full license upon turning 17. In order to obtain a license that provides full driving privileges with no restrictions, candidates must meet all the requirements for obtaining an intermediate license. They must also have written approval from their parent or guardian.

Helping teens navigate Iowa’s graduated driver’s license system can be challenging, and there is a lot to remember regarding the specific requirements of each stage. Regardless of how much your teen may want to drive, though, there is one task that all parents must complete before their son or daughter gets behind the wheel for the first time: purchasing additional car insurance.

Because teens have a higher accident rate than motorists in other demographics, they are more expensive to insure; however, parents or guardians who are willing to do a little research and shop around can usually find coverage for an affordable rate in Iowa.

Even if you end up paying more than you’d like for your teen to drive, you can take comfort in the fact that the rates are only temporary. As long as your son or daughter maintains a clean driving record, he or she will become more affordable to insure with every passing year.