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Seat Belt Laws

321.445 Safety belts and safety harnesses — use required.

1. Except for motorcycles or motorized bicycles, 1966 model year or newer motor vehicles
subject to registration in Iowa shall be equipped with safety belts and safety harnesses which
conform with federal motor vehicle safety standard numbers 209 and 210 as published in 49
C.F.R. §571.209 – 571.210 and with prior federal motor vehicle safety standards for seat belt
assemblies and seat belt assembly anchorages applicable for the motor vehicle’s model year.

2. a. The driver and front seat occupants of a type of motor vehicle that is subject to
registration in Iowa, except a motorcycle or a motorized bicycle, shall each wear a properly
adjusted and fastened safety belt or safety harness any time the vehicle is in forward motion
on a street or highway in this state except that a child under eighteen years of age shall be
secured as required under section 321.446.
b. This subsection does not apply to:
(1) The driver or front seat occupants of a motor vehicle which is not required to be
equipped with safety belts or safety harnesses.
(2) The driver and front seat occupants of a motor vehicle who are actively engaged
in work which requires them to alight from and reenter the vehicle at frequent intervals,
providing the vehicle does not exceed twenty-five miles per hour between stops.
(3) The driver of a motor vehicle while performing duties as a rural letter carrier for the
United States postal service. This exemption applies only between the first delivery point
after leaving the post office and the last delivery point before returning to the post office.
(4) Passengers on a bus.
(5) A person possessing a written certification from a health care provider licensed under
chapter 148 or 151 on a form provided by the department that the person is unable to wear
a safety belt or safety harness due to physical or medical reasons. The certification shall
specify the time period for which the exemption applies. The time period shall not exceed
twelve months, at which time a new certification may be issued unless the certifying health
care provider is from a United States military facility, in which case the certificate may specify
a longer period of time or a permanent exemption.
(6) Front seat occupants of an authorized emergency vehicle while they are being
transported in an emergency. However, this exemption does not apply to the driver of the
authorized emergency vehicle.
c. The department, in cooperation with the department of public safety and the
department of education, shall establish educational programs to foster compliance with the
safety belt and safety harness usage requirements of this subsection.

3. The driver and front seat passengers may be each charged separately for improperly
used or nonused equipment under subsection 2. However, the driver shall not be charged
for a violation committed by a passenger who is fourteen years of age or older unless the
passenger is unable to properly fasten a seat belt due to a temporary or permanent disability.
The owner of the motor vehicle may be charged for equipment violations under subsection 1.

4. a. The nonuse of a safety belt or safety harness by a person is not admissible or material
as evidence in a civil action brought for damages in a cause of action arising prior to July 1,
b. In a cause of action arising on or after July 1, 1986, brought to recover damages arising
out of the ownership or operation of a motor vehicle, the failure to wear a safety belt or safety
harness in violation of this section shall not be considered evidence of comparative fault under
section 668.3, subsection 1. However, except as provided in section 321.446, subsection 6, the
failure to wear a safety belt or safety harness in violation of this section may be admitted to
mitigate damages, but only under the following circumstances:
(1) Parties seeking to introduce evidence of the failure to wear a safety belt or safety
harness in violation of this section must first introduce substantial evidence that the failure
to wear a safety belt or safety harness contributed to the injury or injuries claimed by the
(2) If the evidence supports such a finding, the trier of fact may find that the plaintiff’s
failure to wear a safety belt or safety harness in violation of this section contributed to the
plaintiff’s claimed injury or injuries, and may reduce the amount of the plaintiff’s recovery
Sat Dec 08 19:01:10 2018 Iowa Code 2019, Section 321.445 (30, 3)
by an amount not to exceed twenty-five percent of the damages awarded after any reductions
for comparative fault.

5. The department shall adopt rules pursuant to chapter 17A providing exceptions from
application of subsections 1 and 2 for front seats and front seat passengers of motor vehicles
owned, leased, rented, or primarily used by persons with disabilities who use collapsible
[C66, 71, 73, 75, 77, 79, 81, §321.445]
84 Acts, ch 1016, §3; 86 Acts, ch 1009, §2; 86 Acts, ch 1211, §43; 87 Acts, ch 120, §5; 92
Acts, ch 1175, §37; 96 Acts, ch 1129, §79; 97 Acts, ch 104, §21; 97 Acts, ch 108, §26; 98 Acts,
ch 1080, §6, 7; 2002 Acts, ch 1119, §50; 2004 Acts, ch 1113, §1; 2008 Acts, ch 1088, §122; 2010
Acts, ch 1061, §180; 2010 Acts, ch 1079, §10; 2010 Acts, ch 1186, §6, 7; 2018 Acts, ch 1009, §1
Referred to in §321.210, 321.446, 321.555, 805.8A(14)(c)
For applicable scheduled fines, see §805.8A, subsection 14, paragraph c
Subsection 4, paragraph b, subparagraph (2) amended