As smartphones continue to become more and more popular, laws need to continually change to keep up. Being aware of the laws in the state where you are operating a motor vehicle is important so you can conduct yourself accordingly. Of course, you should never engage in any risky driving behavior whether it’s legal or not, but as an attorney, I firmly believe that knowing the law and your rights as a citizen is beneficial for all.

Iowa Laws Regarding Cell Phone Usage in a Vehicle

∙You cannot use a hand-held electronic device to write, send, or read a text message while driving a motor vehicle unless the vehicle is stopped and off the traveled portion of the roadway. This means that texting while at a stoplight is still illegal.

∙Using your phone to access GPS or the Internet or using it to place a call while driving is not considered illegal.

You cannot be pulled over simply for using your cell phone while driving. If a police officer sees you texting and driving, he or she cannot pull you over unless another violation has also occurred (speeding, expired plates, illegal turn, etc.). If you are pulled over for another violation, you can be ticketed for texting and driving. However, this not considered moving violation, which means it doesn’t negatively impact your driver’s license points or your insurance rates. In addition, the officer cannot confiscate your phone even if they ticket you for texting and driving.

If your use of a cell phone or electronic device causes you to swerve, veer off the road, or cause an accident you could be charged with reckless or careless driving.

∙Those who violate the law can be ticketed in the amount of $30, a sum that can increase to over $1000 if an accident was caused due to the illegal activity.

∙Those under the age of 18 driving with a license or a permit are not allowed to use an electronic communication or entertainment device while driving unless at a complete stop off the traveled portion of the roadway, unless the device is operating through equipment permanently installed in the vehicle. For example, a minor can make a phone call through the car’s hands-free communication system, but making a call directly using the phone, even if it’s in speaker mode, is off limits. A minor can be pulled over for this as the primary violation, though it is not considered a moving violation.  A minor’s permit or driver’s license can be suspended for this offense, and the license or permit can be revoked for a second offense.

What does the mean to you, as a driver? If you are an adult driver and you’re ticketed for texting while driving, make sure that you have been pulled over for a primary offense. Also know that if you were accessing your GPS or placing a call, you have not done anything illegal and can fight the ticket. As always, if you have questions or have a case that involves texting and driving, please feel free to reach out.