Iowa’s Motorcycle Laws

The thrill of being on a motorcycle is a big part of the riding experience. However, cashing in your safety for thrills is not something a responsible motorcyclist would do. Adhering to Iowa’s motorcycle laws doesn’t remove the thrill of riding, and it can safeguard you from getting in trouble with the law or from getting into an accident.

Age to Ride a Motorcycle in Iowa

Just like operating any type of vehicle, motorcycle laws dictate how old a rider must be to operate the motorcycle.

According to the Iowa Motorcycle Operator Manual, at ages 14 to 17, you may drive a motorcycle:                                                

  • with a licensed parent, guardian, or member of your immediate family who has a motorcycle endorsement and is at least 21 years of age; or
  • with an adult who is at least 25 years of age, has a license and motorcycle endorsement, and with written consent from your parent or guardian.

The accompanying adult must stay within sight and hearing lines of the younger rider, and may only supervise one person at a time.

Motorcycle Licenses in Iowa

Iowa’s motorcycle laws also require a motorcycle license, also referred to as a class M, to operate a motorcycle in the state of Iowa. You must take a test to acquire the additional license even if you already have a standard automobile license. There is a $2 per year charge to add a class M to your existing license.

The motorcycle license test is broken down into two parts: a knowledge test and a skills test. The knowledge test asks questions about what to do in case of certain riding situations you may encounter while on the road.

The skills portion tests your ability to maneuver and steer your motorcycle. To be prepared for both the knowledge and skills test, study the Iowa Motorcycle Operator Manual. You may also take part in the Motorcycle Rider Education program. For more information about licensing, call The Motor Vehicle Information Center in Des Moines at 515-244-8725 or 800-532-1121.

Motorcycle Insurance Requirements

Iowa also enforces motorcycle insurance. To ride a motorcycle legally in Iowa, you must carry minimum liability insurance or proof of financial responsibility. One or the other is required if you get into an accident. The minimum liability coverage is bodily injury liability of $20,000 per person and $40,000 per accident, and property damage liability of $15,000 per accident.

According to the Iowa Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), proof of financial responsibility can be defined as:

  • showing that you are covered by automobile liability insurance at the time of the accident;
  • cash, cashier's check, certified check, bank draft or postal money order made payable to the Office of Driver Services;
  • getting releases from all parties damaged or injured in the accident;
  • getting a decision from a civil damage action relieving you of liability;
  • filing an agreement to pay the other damaged or injured parties via an installment plan;
  • executing a warrant for confession of judgment including an agreed upon payment schedule; or
  • providing evidence of a settlement of all damages or injuries.

Iowa’s Motorcycle Helmet Law

Iowa is one of three states that do not require you wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle, regardless of your age. But remember that wearing a helmet can reduce your chance of head and neck injury drastically if you are involved in an accident. Helmet use might affect a liability claim if you suffered a head injury as well.

Find a helmet with a Department of Transportation (DOT) sticker, as the DOT has standards for motorcycle helmet regulations. Further, if your helmet has a label from Snell Memorial Foundation, then your helmet is DOT compliant.

If you were in a motorcycle accident in Des Moines, discuss how helmet use and other factors or motorcycle laws might affect your liability claim against an at-fault driver. Call Walker, Billingsley & Bair at 888-435-9886 to set up a consultation about your case.

Corey Walker
With 19 years legal experience, Corey has been recognized for his work as an injury attorney.