Last Updated: 12/29/2022
The legal age to operate a motorcycle in Iowa is 14, though these riders face certain restrictions. Riders 14 to 17 must obtain a motorcycle instruction permit; operators with only a permit face restrictions regarding with whom they may drive.
Riders may obtain an intermediate motorcycle license at 16, but still face restrictions. Riders may obtain a full license at 17 provided they meet other requirements. Further, riders under 18 years old must take a rider's education course before they can legally operate a motorcycle.
Motorcycle Instruction Permits
Riders who obtain a motorcycle instruction permit and are between 14 and 17 years old can drive with a licensed parent or guardian, provided the parent or guardian has a motorcycle endorsement.
Juvenile motorcyclists may also operate the bike with an immediate family member licensed with endorsement who is 21 years old or over. Riders need a parent’s permission to operate a bike with another licensed adult with motorcycle endorsement and the adult must be at least 25 years old.
The requirements are the same for permit holders who are 18, but they do not require parental permission to ride with a non-family member who is 25 years or older and holds a license and motorcycle endorsement.
Further, Iowa’s motorcycle law states, “the accompanying person must be within audible and visual communications distance from the permittee and be accompanying the permittee on or in a different motor vehicle." The accompanying person must supervise only one permittee at a time.
Intermediate Motorcycle License
Individuals who have a motorcycle instruction permit for six months may, with parental permission, obtain an intermediate motorcycle license. The individual must have at least 20 hours of street and highway driving, of which two hours must have occurred after sunset or before sunrise.
Intermediate license holders may not operate a motorcycle between 12:30 a.m. and 5 a.m. without accompaniment by an individual that meets the criteria mentioned above under the ‘Motorcycle Instruction Permits’ section. They may operate the motorcycle between these hours if they are riding to or from a school-related extracurricular activity.
Full Motorcycle License
Riders who are 17 and older may obtain a full motorcycle driver’s license if they had an intermediate license for at least a year. They must have completed at least 10 hours of street or highway driving, two hours of which occurred after sunset or before sunrise.
Motorcycle Safety Course is Required for Riders Under 18
The motorcycle safety courses that young riders must take before they receive their instruction permit include 15 hours of training: five hours of in-class instruction and 10 hours of range activities.
Some of the skills taught in motorcycle safety courses include:
- riding in a straight line;
- stopping; and
- other riding skills.
The classes are Motorcycle Safety Foundation-approved and held at certified facilities across the state.
What if a motorcyclist is not licensed and is in an accident?
Operators who do not possess the proper license or who violate the requirements for the license or permit may face legal consequences, not to mention civil consequences if they cause an accident. Failing to possess the proper license or violating the terms of the license may contribute to the rider’s comparative negligence in the event of a motorcycle accident.