Traffic Ticket FAQ in Iowa

What do I do if I get a traffic ticket in IA?

Decide whether it’s in your best interest to plead guilty or no contest and pay the ticket, or plead not guilty and fight the ticket in court.

For some drivers, this is the most convenient option because they can pay their fines online and put the incident behind them; drivers who believe they were wrongly ticketed, however, prefer to plead their cases in court.

NOTE: If your ticket reads “non-scheduled” or “unsecured,” you must appear in court, no matter how you plan to plead.

Visit Paying Your Traffic Ticket and Fighting Your Traffic Ticket for more information about your options.

How can I get a traffic ticket dismissed?

You can plead not guilty, fight the ticket in court, and win your case.

Many drivers opt to hire traffic ticket attorneys when they choose this path.

What if I have a Iowa CDL and get a traffic ticket?

First, tell your employer. You only have 30 days from the date of the citation to let him or her know about it.

Then, determine whether you want to plead guilty or no contest and pay, or plead not guilty and fight the ticket in court.

Before you make your decision, note that CDL holders face stiffer penalties for some violations than do regular drivers. A guilty plea or verdict could cost you income and even your job.

Given what’s at stake, you might want to consult an attorney.

What if I’m younger than 17 and get a traffic conviction?

Most minors have either an instruction permit or intermediate license.

If you have an:

  • Instruction permit, you must remain crash- and violation-free for 6 months before moving on to an intermediate license.
  • Intermediate license, you must remain crash- and violation-free for 12 months before moving on to a full driver’s license.

So, getting convicted of a traffic violation slows you down in the GDL process.

What are the penalties for a DWI conviction if I’m younger than 21?

  • 1st offense: Suspension of 60 days.
  • Subsequent offenses: Suspension of 90 days.

NOTE: Drivers who agree to chemical testing not only get shorter suspension periods, but also they’re eligible for temporary driving permits.

What are “scheduled” and “non-scheduled” traffic tickets?

For your purposes, a “scheduled” ticket is one that has the fine printed on it. That violation is included on Iowa’s statewide fee schedule.

A “non-scheduled” (or sometimes “unsecured”) violation is one that doesn’t have the fine printed on the ticket and requires a court appearance.

If your ticket doesn’t include clear instructions on how to handle a “non-scheduled” or “unsecured” citation, contact your clerk.

Why is it a good idea to order a driving record?

Auto insurance providers and some potential employers look at driving records, so you want to ensure yours is accurate.

You can make sure:

  • No violation appears if you’re found not guilty in court.
  • Only the applicable violations appear if plead (or are found) guilty in court.
  • The DOT removes violations after they’ve been on your record the allotted amount of time.

Visit IA Driving Records to grab a copy of yours.

What is the cost of my traffic ticket?

Traffic tickets are the same throughout the state, though the do vary by violation.

Other factors that affect your total cost include:

  • Court costs.
  • Violation surcharges (such as OWL fines).
  • Penalty costs (such as license reinstatement and driver improvement fees).

How long do my violations stay on my driving record?

It depends on the violation. Countable speeding offenses stay on for 5 years; license revocations stay on for 12 years. Some violations may even linger for 7 years.

Talk with your judge and the DOT about how much time you’re facing.

Are traffic ticket fines the same throughout the state?

Yes. They vary by violation, but they’re the same throughout the state. Court costs are, too.

How can I find a lost traffic ticket online?

You can use either the:

Iowa provides other “offline” ways to get your traffic ticket information. Visit Lost LA Traffic Ticket for more information.

When is it a good idea to hire a traffic ticket attorney?

Consider hiring a traffic ticket attorney if:

  • You don’t want to speak in court.
  • You’re not sure about the proper way to prepare for court.
  • You need to reschedule or postpone your hearing, but the court says it’s too late.
  • You’re found guilty and want to appeal the verdict.

Also, it’s smart to hire an attorney if you’re facing serious criminal charges or any violation that could revoke or bar your driver’s license for a significant amount of time.

What does it mean to be a “habitual offender”?

Per state law, a habitual offender is someone who accumulates:

  • Three or more certain violations in a six-year period.
  • Six or more moving violations in a six-year period. (If the moving violation is speeding, it must be 15 miles or more over the speed limit.)

Learn more about the “certain violations” over at our IA Point System section.

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