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Iowa law for under-16 drivers changes on July 1

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(The Center Square) – A new special minor’s restricted license will allow minors in Iowa who are 14 and a half years old to drive under certain conditions starting July 1.

The license replaces the current one that allows someone 14 and a half years old to drive unsupervised up to 50 miles from their home to school or a school bus stop or public transportation.

Signed into law by the governor in May, Senate File 2109 authorizes licensees to drive up to 25 miles from their homes to school, extracurricular activities, and work. It also allows for licensees to drive more than 25 miles if they attend a public school and live within the public school district.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) estimates 21,000 students will be eligible to apply for the license and expects 10,600 students to apply for it each year, according to the bill’s fiscal note.

Under the old license, an age-qualified teen could drive up to 50 miles for farm-related work, but the new one decreases that distance to 25 miles.

It will cost the DOT an estimated $116,000 in fiscal year 2025 to implement the new measure, according to the bill’s fiscal note.

Only a handful of states allow drivers as young as 14 to take the wheel, and each state has its own conditions.

Alaska, Arkansas, Kansas, North Dakota and South Dakota allow 14-year-olds to apply for learner’s licenses or instruction permits. Minors in Idaho and Montana who are at least 14 and a half years old can enroll in driver education and receive a restrictive license or permit respectively. In Michigan, those who are 14 and 9 months old can receive a license that allows them to drive with supervision.

Last year, a new law passed in Oklahoma allowing teenagers as young as 14 to apply for a Farm Driving Permit if they are living or employed on a farm.

In Iowa, the law going into effect next week will require applicants to hold an instruction permit for six months before being eligible for the special minor’s restricted license. In the past, schools were required to certify that a special need exists for a student to receive a special minor’s license, but the new law does away with that.

The bill authorizes a licensee to drive to school whether or not it is a public school, which is different from the current law that distinguishes between a public school and a nonpublic school.

Among the costs associated with the bill is a one-time vendor cost of $80,000 to the DOT to redesign the license and a one-time cost of $36,000 for the DOT to update the database and other IT programming costs.

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