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What are Iowa Traffic Tickets?

Traffic tickets in Iowa are documents issued by law enforcement officials to road users charging them with suspected traffic offenses or violations. Driver’s records and ticket/citation history within the state are maintained by the Iowa Department of Transportation and the Iowa Judicial Branch, respectively. These records are available to the public on request.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

What Does a Traffic Citation Mean?

A traffic citation, just like a ticket, is an official notice charging a road user with traffic violations. A citation usually charges an offender for one or more traffic violations, and it serves as an official summons requiring a traffic offender to appear in traffic court. While a traffic ticket may sometimes serve as a warning for minor infractions, a citation may be served to a traffic offender with multiple or severe violations. A traffic citation usually refers to the law that the traffic offender broke.

How Do I Pay a Traffic Ticket in Iowa?

Paying a ticket is one way of responding to a traffic ticket in Iowa. It is important to note that responding this way is a guilty plea. In addition to containing details of the Court that issued the ticket and the fine amount, the traffic ticket also carries information of the day by which the traffic payment or response will be due. In most cases, this is generally about 15 days from the infraction date. Late payments may cause harsher penalties. Paying a ticket means the driver is waiving the rights to challenge the traffic ticket in court and probably temporarily losing the driver’s license to suspension by the Department of Licensing depending on the severity and frequency of this event. In Iowa, tickets can generally be paid online, in-person, by phone, or via mail.


The Iowa courts website has an online payment feature where traffic offenders may enter their information. The citation number and the county name where the ticket was issued may be required.


The traffic citations in Iowa usually have the court date written on the back. The individual may follow the instruction and have the ticket payment mailed to tha address. The citation number and check or money order should be included in the mail. If the mailing address is not written at the back of the citation, the inquirer may find that information on the county website or the Iowa Courts website.


This payment is done by visiting the court in person. Also, if the individual chooses to pay in cash, this will be an advisable option as mailing cash is not acceptable.

Finally, traffic offenders can make traffic ticket payments over the phone by calling 515–348–4788 during work hours on weekdays.

Generally, the decided mode of payment depends on the individual’s preferences and the services offered at the court where the citation was issued. The individual may call the court clerk ahead to confirm what services are available or visit the court/county website for more information.

Can You Pay Iowa Traffic Tickets Online?

Yes, traffic ticket payments can be paid online in Iowa.

Generally, drivers in Iowa complete minor traffic tickets online with ease on the Iowa Judicial Branch website. But, if the citation does not specify a fine amount, or the driver receives a non-scheduled or unsecured traffic ticket, a court appearance may be required depending on the jurisdiction where the ticket was issued.

How do I Pay a Ticket Online in Iowa?

A driver can pay traffic tickets online via the Iowa Judicial website by locating the electronic payment provider and completing the transaction with a major credit card. The driver will be required to provide some important information to proceed with the transaction, for example:

  • The type of case, infraction or offense (traffic, simple/criminal, or civil infraction)
  • Case number
  • Driver’s full name
  • County in which the charge or citation was issued.

It is important to note that citations issued by law enforcement officials in Iowa are not filed immediately in the Clerk’s office, hence it may take 10–14 days for the citation to be posted online. If the ticket was issued outside weekdays, it might take longer.

How Do I Know If I Have A Traffic Ticket In Iowa?

Generally, in Iowa, drivers may order their driving records to check their license status, check demerit points on their licenses, search for the driver’s license number, and even check for tickets.

The drivers may simply view the record for free or order a non-certified copy. Also, the drivers may choose to order the driving record from the Department of Transportation for $5.50 with a completed request form, a copy of the requestor’s driver’s license or non-driver identification card, and check made payable to “Treasurer, State of Iowa.”

Mailing address.

Driver & Identification Services

Iowa Department of Transportation

P. O. Box 9204

Des Moines, Iowa 50306–9204

Finally, the inquirer may run searches at the local DMV using the driver’s license number, or contact the presiding traffic court to obtain a traffic citation history.

What is the Iowa Traffic Ticketing System?

The state of Iowa has a demerit point system it uses to track and identify possibly dangerous drivers. In contrast to most states in the country, it doesn’t assess points for most minor traffic violations. This, however, does not mean that minor violations cannot result in license-related consequences.

The Iowa Demerit Point System


  • Perjury
  • Driving when a license has been suspended or revoked

3 points

  • Driving when a license has been revoked for DUI
  • 4points
  • Driving under the influence
  • Driving while barred from license

5 points

  • Committing a felony while using a vehicle
  • Refusal to stop and render assistance
  • Evading a police officer
  • Inflicting serious injuries by DUI or reckless driving

6 points

  • Committing vehicular manslaughter

Also, the number of points on a driver’s record within the last six years may determine if his/her license will be barred and for how long.

  • 6—7 points 2 years license bar duration
  • 8—9 points: 3 years license bar duration
  • 10—12 points: 4 years license bar duration
  • 10—15 points: 5 years license bar duration
  • 16 points or more: 6 years license bar duration

Generally, The Iowa Driver & Identification Services (ODS) will SUSPEND a driver’s license if he/she commits:

  • 3 moving violations or more in 12 months
  • 6 moving violations or more in 24 months

In addition to having driving privileges revoked, accruing too many demerit points can gravely affect auto-insurance rates.

How Can I Find a Lost Traffic Ticket in Iowa?

If a driver loses a traffic ticket in Iowa, it can be retrieved via the following means;

  • Searching online using driver’s full name.
  • Contacting the presiding traffic court directly
  • Ordering a copy from the Department of Transportation.

The driver may obtain a traffic ticket for a cost of 50 cents per copy from the Department of Transportation with a completed request form, a copy of the driver’s license and a check made payable to the “Treasurer, State of Iowa.”

Mailing address:

Driver & Identification Services

Iowa Department of Transportation

P. O. Box 9204

Des Moines, Iowa 50306–9204

How Long Does a Traffic Ticket Stay on Your Record in Iowa?

In Iowa, traffic tickets from moving violations stay on the driver’s record for 5–12 years, depending on the type and severity of the offense.

For example, a speeding ticket may stay on the driver’s record for 5 years, and a citation for drunk driving will remain on the driver’s record for 12 years.

Is a Summons Worse Than a Ticket in Iowa?

Traffic tickets are resolved with fines, while a summons request that a traffic offender appears in a traffic court. Given that summons are generally issued to repeat or serious offenders and that it usually mandates a court appearance, it may be worse than a ticket.