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Learn about driving restrictions and special initiatives aimed at keeping Iowa’s elderly drivers and highways safe.

While the Iowa Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) enforces a plethora of laws and regulations that apply to drivers of all ages and stages, the state imposes certain unique requirements and limits on senior drivers.

The Iowa state standards are discussed in further detail below, but many of them concentrate on recognizing and dealing with elderly drivers who may have become hazardous behind the wheel.

Iowa, in particular:

Drivers 69 and older must renew their licenses more regularly than younger drivers, and anybody with knowledge of the driver’s abilities may request an unsafe driving inquiry.

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Iowa License Renewal Procedures for Senior Citizens

Older drivers who want to renew their licenses must follow certain restrictions.

Drivers between the ages of 18 and 72 must renew their licenses every eight years. Those over the age of 73 must renew every seven years, those over the age of 74 every six years, those over the age of 75 every five years, those over the age of 76 every four years, those over the age of 77 every three years, and those over the age of 78 every two years.

Renewal requires a vision exam. Drivers may have a free vision test conducted by MVD employees, or they can have an exam performed by an independent vision expert, who must produce a Vision Report and conduct the exam within 30 days of the renewal request.

If the driver is the subject of a dangerous driving inquiry, a written exam may be necessary.

A road test may be necessary if the driver’s health has changed or if his or her license does not represent his or her current medical condition.

More information for elderly drivers may be found in the Iowa Department of Transportation brochure “Driver’s License Renewal in Iowa.”

License Restrictions That Might Exist

After performing a driving test and discussing potential limits with the motorist, the MVD may impose restrictions or conditions on his or her driver’s license.

The most prevalent limitation for senior drivers is the need for corrective lenses or glasses.

Other frequent criteria that the MVD may place on older drivers in Iowa include:

No nighttime driving in cars equipped with an extra right side mirror, and driving with a bioptic telescopic lens.

In Iowa, How Do I Request an Unsafe Driver Investigation?

The Iowa MVD will accept a request from any source who has firsthand knowledge of a driver’s skills and ability to re-examine him or her. The source of such requests, however, will not be kept private.

Those who desire to seek a re-examination must do so in person at a local MVD office. It is best to call beforehand to ensure that a certain office handles such inquiries.

How to Restore a Driver’s License

See the MVD’s website on suspensions and revocations for information about regaining a license that has been suspended or revoked in Iowa.

How to Obtain Parking Placards or License Plates for a Disabled Driver

If a competent medical practitioner recognizes the condition, parking placards and license plates may be granted to drivers with restricted mobility.

Placards and license plates are also offered to people who:

cannot go 200 feet without stopping to rest
have a serious heart disease or are severely restricted in their ability to walk owing to an arthritic, neurological, or orthopedic ailment.

The following steps must be taken in order to receive a disability placard or plate:

Fill out and sign the Application for Persons with Disabilities Parking Permit for Iowa Residents.
Request a statement on letterhead stationery from a physician, podiatrist, chiropractor, physician assistant, or advanced nurse practitioner indicating that the applicant is disabled and whether the condition is temporary or permanent.
The original application should be sent to any full-service driver’s license location.

Learn More About Senior Driving Rules in Iowa

Iowa drivers may find a plethora of information on the MVD website, including explanations of license and automobile registration requirements.

The free pamphlet “Driving With Diminished Skills,” which contains information on diagnosing and evaluating eyesight and cognitive impairment, as well as conditions that may influence driving, is very useful for senior drivers, as is the MVD web page devoted to Senior Drivers.

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