Iowa House backs tougher rules for teen drivers

DES MOINES – Iowa teenagers who want a driver’s license before they turn 18 would have to wait a little longer under a measure passed Wednesday by the state House.

Representatives on voted 87 to 9 in favor of the bill, which requires that minors have their learners permit for a year, instead of the current six months, before they can get a license.

Minors would also only be allowed to drive around only one unrelated minor at a time in the first six months of having a license, unless accompanied by a parent, guardian or driving instructor or unless they get blanket permission from a parent to disregard the limit.

Current law limits the number of passengers for drivers with a learners permit and intermediate license to the number of available seatbelts in the car.

Rep. Josh Byrnes, R-Osage, who sponsored the bill, says it’s important that teens practice driving in all seasons before being allowed to get a standard license.

“Twelve months is a good thing because now we know all kids have encountered adverse conditions and maybe know how to drive better in an icy situation, snow conditions, fog,” he said. “I’ve been a coach of a lot of different sports, the more you practice the better you get. Why would that be any different for driving?”

Rep. Ralph Watts, R-Adel, was one of the few who voted against the bill. He says the bill takes away a parent’s right to determine when their children are ready for an intermediate license.