Graduated Drivers License | Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines

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Iowa's Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) System

Graduated Driver Licensing or GDL is a system designed to phase in young drivers to full driving privileges as they become more mature, gain driving experience, and develop their driving skills. GDL Laws lead to a 20-50% decrease in crashes for 16- and 17-year-olds (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). The GDL Law in Iowa went into effect January 1, 2014.

Instruction Permit

  • Available at age 14 with written approval of parent/guardian.
  • Must be held for a minimum of 12 months.
  • All driving must be supervised by a licensed driver who is a parent/guardian, custodian, an immediate family member at least 21 years of age, a driver education instructor, or a person at least 25 years old with written permission of parent/guardian.
  • Complete a minimum of 20 hours supervised driving with 2 hours at night.
  • Hold permit and maintain a clean driving record for 6 consecutive months before proceeding to next stage.

Intermediate License

  • Available at age 16.
  • Must have completed an Iowa-approved driver education course.
  • May drive:
    • Without supervision from 5 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.
    • From 12:30 a.m. to 5:00 a.m. with a licensed driver who is a parent/guardian, custodian, an immediate family member at least 21 years of age, a driver education instructor, or a person at least 25 years old with written permission of parent/guardian.
    • With waiver, between 12:30 a.m. and 5 a.m. to and from work and school-related activities.
  • Complete 10 hours of supervised driving with 2 hours at night.
  • May not:
    • Use a cell phone, smartphone, tablet, or other electronic communication or entertainment device while driving.
    • Carry more than one minor passenger that is not a relative when driving without adult supervision. 
    • Carry more passengers than the number of seat belts in vehicle, even when driving with adult supervision.
  • Hold license and maintain a clean driving record for 12 consecutive months before proceeding to next stage.

Full License

  • Available at age 17 with written approval of parent/guardian.
  • Full driving privileges with no restrictions.