Iowa has traffic laws that apply specifically to motorcycle riders.

Iowa motorcyclists, like all motorists, must abide by the rules of the road.

Some rules of the road apply to all drivers. For example, all drivers, including motorcycle riders, should obey the speed limit, follow road signs, and have the required minimum liability insurance.

Other rules are unique to motorcyclists.

You Need to Know About All of These Laws for Two Reasons

All riders should know about the laws for operating a motorcycle in Iowa. These laws may help you avoid a serious accident and keep you safe from injury in some circumstances. Additionally, after a crash, the laws may be relevant to any potential finding of liability or contributory negligence. In other words, whether you followed the laws could be relevant to whether you were at fault for the accident and relevant to your potential recovery.

Iowa Motorcycle License Laws

Before we get to the laws for riding motorcycles in Iowa, it is important to know what you have to do to get an Iowa motorcycle license.

You may begin riding on public roads once you are 14 years old and pass a written knowledge test to get your motorcycle instruction permit. Once you have your permit, you may ride with a member of your immediate family who is at least 21 years old and has a motorcycle endorsement or another rider who is at least 25 years old and has a motorcycle endorsement. If you are under the age of 18 and riding with someone who is not an immediate family member, then you need your parent or guardian’s written permission.

To get your full motorcycle license or a motorcycle endorsement on your existing license, you will need to pass a written knowledge test, a driving test, and a vision screening. However, the driving test may be waived if you complete an Iowa-approved motorcycle education class.

Iowa State Laws Specific to Riders on the Road

On public roads, Iowa laws require:

  • The use of headlights during the day.
  • Passenger seats and passenger footrests for bikes that carry passengers.
  • Rider education for motorcyclists under the age of 18. Motorcycle education is available for riders of all ages but is not always required for older riders.

Additionally, the law allows:

  • Two riders to ride side by side in the same lane.
  • Passengers of any age to ride with a licensed motorcyclist.
  • Riders to carry packages if they can do so without obscuring their views.

Other laws may also apply in specific situations. However, Iowa currently has no restrictions on handlebar height or helmet speakers. The law does not require bikes to have turn signals. Additionally, state law does not require riders to wear eye protection or safety helmets.

Iowa Motorcycle Insurance Requirements

You have a choice in Iowa. As a rider, you may do one of the following:

  • Carry at least the minimum amount of liability insurance. If you choose to have insurance, you must have at least $20,000 per person in bodily injury liability, $40,000 per accident in bodily injury liability, and $15,000 per accident in property damage liability.
  • Have proof of financial responsibility. If you do not have the required liability insurance, then you must show proof of financial responsibility. You can show proof of financial responsibility by having (a) cash, a cashier’s check, or another acceptable form of payment made payable to the Office of Driver’s Services; (b) obtaining releases from all parties to an accident; (c) obtaining a decision from a civil lawsuit relieving you of liability; (d) filing an agreement to pay any injured parties or anyone who suffered property damage through an installment plan; (e) executing a warrant for confession of judgment that includes an agreed-upon payment schedule; or (f) providing evidence of a settlement for all injuries and damages.

Iowa Motorcycle Accident Law

You may have followed all of Iowa’s motorcycle laws and even some of the state’s recommendations for safe riding. Yet, another driver’s distracted or negligent behavior still caused you to be seriously hurt in a crash.

Now, you suffer from a head injury, spinal cord injury, road rash, broken bone, eye injury, or another type of injury, and you deserve to make a fair and complete recovery for your injuries. Iowa personal injury law:

  • Gives you two years to file a motorcycle accident injury case. The statute of limitations typically begins on the date your motorcycle accident occurs. However, you shouldn’t wait until the statute of limitations is about to expire to contact an attorney. Instead, you should contact an Iowa motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible to preserve evidence and begin working toward your legal recovery.
  • Allows you to pursue damages against a negligent driver. Iowa is an at-fault state. That means that you may recover damages from a driver who breaches their duty of care and causes your accident injuries.
  • Allows you to recover damages, as long as you were not primarily responsible for the crash. According to Iowa’s contributory negligence law, you may recover damages as long as your legal responsibility for the crash was 50 percent or less of the total liability. However, your damages will be reduced by the percentage of fault attributed to you.

You Can Do Everything Right and Still Be Hurt in an Iowa Motorcycle Crash

Motorcycle accidents—particularly serious crashes that result in significant injuries—are not always straightforward. If you have been hurt, then we encourage you to read our FREE book, The Ultimate Guide for Motorcycle Accident Victims, and to browse the free resources available on our website for more information and tips about your rights and potential recovery.

The attorneys of Hupy and Abraham have more than 200 years of combined legal experience. We provide tough, compassionate, and aggressive representation to all of our clients. We have collected tens of millions of dollars for our motorcycle accident clients, and as riders ourselves, we are committed to helping you get the fair recovery you deserve.

Contact us today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation. We would be happy to meet with you by phone or video conference, in your home or hospital room, or in our Cedar Rapids, Davenport, or Des Moines law office.


Jason F. Abraham
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Helping car accident and personal injury victims throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa since 1993.