On Monday, April 17, Governor Branstad signed bills into law banning texting while driving and allowing for tougher action against driving while impaired.
Previously, texting while driving was considered a secondary offense in Iowa, which meant police could not stop someone unless they believed another violation had occurred. Under the new law, police will be able to pull over anyone who is texting while driving, and, if proven to have written or viewed an electronic message, that person will face a $30 fine, plus 35% surcharge and court costs. Further, texting while driving will be considered a reckless act, which could lead to additional criminal charges for reckless driving. It is still legal for handheld devices to be used for GPS or to make phone calls.
The other new law could require anyone arrested for impaired driving to participate in sobriety monitoring twice a day. In addition, ignition interlocks will be required to prevent the driver’s car from starting if their breath reveals they have been drinking.
These laws are set to go into effect July 1, 2017.