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What are Iowa Traffic Tickets?

Traffic tickets in Iowa are documents issued by law enforcement officials to road users charged with traffic offenses or violations. In Iowa, driver records and ticket/citation history 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 also be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often simplify the research process since they aggregate information from most judicial districts, allowing users to perform multi-record searches conveniently. To use the search engines provided by third-party services, inquirers are typically expected to 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, or was accused in.

Third-party sites are operated independent of government sources. Thus, record availability, accuracy and validity may not be guaranteed.

What Does a Traffic Citation Mean?

An Iowa traffic citation, just like a ticket, is an official notice charging a road user with traffic violations. A citation usually specifies a charge 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. This response may be considered 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 that the traffic payment or response is due. In most cases, this is 15 days from the infraction date. Late payments may result in more severe penalties. By paying a ticket, the driver waives their right to challenge the traffic ticket in court and may temporarily have their license suspended by the Department of Licensing depending on the severity and frequency of their offenses. 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 resolve their tickets. To process a payment, the offender will need to enter their information; in most cases, the citation number and the name of the county where the ticket was issued is required.


The traffic citations in Iowa usually have information regarding relevant courts and a prospective court date written on the back. Offenders may follow the outlined instructions and have the stipulated payment mailed to the indicated address. The citation number (of the ticket) and check or money order should be included in the mail. Where 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. In this case, payments may be made in cash. However, cash payments should not be mailed in.

Via Phone

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

The chosen 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 may resolve minor traffic tickets online with relative ease on the Iowa Judicial Branch website. However, if the citation does not specify a fine amount, or if 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 credit card. The driver may be required to provide some important information to proceed with the transaction, for example:

  • The type of case, infraction or isoffense (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?

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. A driving record typically encompasses driving-related information.

The drivers may 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; this may be done with:

  • A completed request form
  • A copy of the requestor’s driver’s license or non-driver identification card
  • A 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 used for tracking and identifying potentially dangerous drivers. Unlike other US states, it doesn’t assess points for most minor traffic violations. This, however, does not mean that minor violations cannot result in license-related consequences or penalties.

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 their license is likely to 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) may SUSPEND a driver’s license if they commit:

  • 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 negatively impact 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 any of the following means:

  • Searching online using the 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 50 cents per copy from the Department of Transportation. This typically requires 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 might remain on the driver’s record for 12 years.

Is a Summons Worse Than a Ticket in Iowa?

Traffic tickets can be resolved by the payment of fines, while a summons may require that a traffic offender appear 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 considered worse than a ticket.

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