Driving on a Suspended License in Iowa

Like all states, Iowa may suspend or revoke its residents’ driver’s licenses for traffic violations, criminal convictions, and other issues. In general, suspension means the state temporarily withdraws your privilege to drive. Revocation often means the termination of driving privileges. Whether your license is suspended or revoked, you can be charged with a crime if you drive when your license is not valid.

Reasons for Suspension

Your license may be suspended if you:

  • are considered a habitually reckless or negligent driver
  • habitually violate traffic laws
  • commit a serious violation of Iowa traffic laws, or
  • fail to pay a criminal fine or court costs. (Iowa Code § § 321.210(1)(a), 321.210A.)

Your license may be subject to mandatory revocation for certain criminal convictions. (Iowa Code §21.209.) They include:

  • manslaughter if a vehicle was involved in the offense
  • a felony, if a vehicle was used
  • failure to stop after a crash resulting in injury or death
  • conviction for two charges of reckless driving
  • drag racing, and
  • fleeing or attempting to flee a law enforcement vehicle. (Iowa Code §321.209.)

Your license may be suspended or revoked for many additional reasons not listed here.

Reinstating Your License

You should not drive when your license is suspended or revoked. After your period of suspension or revocation expires, you must pay a fee to reinstate your license. In many cases the fee is $20. (Iowa Code § 321.191(8).) You do not have to pay a reinstatement fee if your license was suspended because the state found you physically or mentally incapable of driving safely. (Iowa Code § 321.191(8).) You may have to fulfill other conditions before your regaining your license.

Charges for Driving After Suspension or Revocation

Driving after suspension or revocation may be charged as a simple misdemeanor or serious misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances. (Iowa Code § § 321.218(1), 321J.21)

Simple Misdemeanor

If you are charged with a simple misdemeanor, your sentence may involve:

  • up to 30 days in jail
  • a fine between $250 and $1,500, and
  • an extension of your license suspension or revocation. (Iowa Code § § 903.1(1), 321.218.)

Serious Misdemeanor

You may be charged with a serious misdemeanor under certain circumstances, such as if your license was suspended due to driving while intoxicated. (Iowa Code § 321J.21.) If you are charged with a serious misdemeanor, your sentence may involve:

  • up to a year in jail
  • a $1,000 fine, and
  • an extension of your license suspension or revocation. (Iowa Code § § 903.1(1), 321J.21.)

In addition, you may have to pay a civil penalty of $50 or $200 if you are convicted of driving after suspension or revocation. (Iowa Code § 321.218A.)

Legal Help for Charges of Driving After Suspension or Revocation

The consequences may be serious if you are convicted of driving after suspension or revocation. You may be fined, receive a jail sentence, and receive an extended period of revocation or suspension. You will have to pay fees and fines to reinstate your license again. The conviction will also affect your life, hindering your ability to stay employed or in school. While statutes provide maximum sentences for this crime, your actual sentence will depend on the attitude your community and court have toward driving after suspension or revocation. A lawyer who is familiar with how prosecutors and judges in your city handle these cases will be able to advise you about your case.

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