Welcome to Ames! We are glad you are here. If you are new to the United States you likely have many questions about how to travel safely and legally. This portion of our website is designed to help you answer common questions and find useful information that will help you travel safely while you are here. For more information on biking, walking, or driving in Ames click on the links below. If the answers to your questions can't be found please contact our Community Resource Officer.
Frequently Asked Questions
Required Documents (Driver's License, Registration, Insurance)
- What do I need to do to legally drive in Iowa?
- You will need a valid driver’s license, proof of vehicle registration, and proof of vehicle insurance.
- Who needs a driver's license?
- Anyone operating a motor vehicle is required to have a valid driver’s license. Information on license requirements can be found on the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) website.
- I am a student and I have a valid driver’s license from another state/country. Do I need an Iowa driver’s license?
- The Iowa Department of Transportation provides an answer to this question here.
- How do I get an Iowa driver's license or ID card?
- The process is relatively simple but there are several requirements and steps involved. More information can be found here.
- What documents will I need to apply for an Iowa driver’s license?
- The Iowa DOT provides an electronic checklist to help organize your documents here.
- Do I need to take a test to get an Iowa driver’s license.
- You may be required to take a written and driving test. More information can be found here.
- What is proof of vehicle registration?
- Iowa law requires that motor vehicles be registered and proof of registration be carried in the vehicle at all times. Information on how to register your vehicle can be found here.
- What is proof of vehicle insurance?
- Iowa law requires every motor vehicle to be insured and documentation of insurance coverage must be carried in the vehicle at all times. More information about vehicle insurance can be found here.
- What do I do if I see emergency lights (flashing red and blue lights on police, fire, and medical vehicles)?
- Slow down and pull to the right as soon as it is safe to do so. This will allow the emergency vehicle to pass safely on your left. Once they have passed you may continue driving.
- What do I do if I am pulled over by a police car for a traffic stop?
- This video explains what to expect during a traffic stop.
- When you see emergency lights behind you slow down, safely pull over to the right side of the road, put your car in park, roll down your window, and place your hands on the steering wheel.
- The officer will greet you, tell you why you were stopped, and ask for your driver’s license, proof of vehicle insurance, and proof of vehicle registration.
- For your safety, and the safety of the officer, stay in the vehicle and avoid sudden movements or reaching for objects unless instructed by the officer.
- Be polite and respectful to the officer. Do not attempt to argue, bargain, or bribe the officer. Expect the officer to be professional and respectful during the stop.
- Additional information from the Iowa State Patrol can be found here.
- What should I do if I'm involved in a car accident?
- If anyone is seriously injured call 911 immediately.
- Move your vehicle out of the roadway if it is safe to do so.
- If there are no injuries call the Ames Police Department at 515-239-5133 to report the accident.
- Do not accept money from the other driver, or pay the other driver, for any damages.
- What are the parking rules in Ames?
- When parking on Iowa State University (ISU) property vehicles are subject to the ISU Parking Division rules. When parked in other areas of the city vehicles are subject to City of Ames parking ordinances.
- Both the City of Ames and ISU have online interactive maps of available parking.
- More parking information can be found on the Park SMART page of this website.
- What is Operating While Intoxicated (OWI)?
- Drivers could be arrested for OWI if they are under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol while driving. More information can be found here.
- How can getting arrested for OWI affect my immigration status?
- Your Visa could be revoked by your Consular Office if you are arrested/convicted of OWI. More information can be found here. You may also consider speaking with a qualified immigration attorney.
- Am I required to wear a seatbelt?
- Wearing a seatbelt is always a good idea and can prevent injury to you and other passengers. The driver and front seat passengers are always required to wear their seatbelts and passengers in rear seats can be required to use a seatbelt or child safety seat depending on age, weight and height.
- Where can I find information on child safety seat requirements?
- Requirements, useful guides, and other helpful information can be found here.
- How do I get around if I choose not to drive a motor vehicle?
Interacting with Law Enforcement