Getting a Temporary Restricted License (TRL)


Who Needs a TRL?


Many persons need a temporary restricted license (TRL) to handle life's daily responsibilities- getting to and from work and school, getting groceries and other necessary errands. Public transportation may not be close by. Taxis are expensive, and rides from friends may not be reliable. Not every person who needs a TRL will be able to get one and the law in this area is complex. A person who needs to get a TRL is well advised to talk to a lawyer for help in this process


TRL after an Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) Revocation

If your license revocation was due to a OWI revocation, your TRL will not be restricted to certain activities or certain times. However, you will need to install an approved ignition interlock device on all vehicles that you may drive.

TRL after Eluding the Police

If your license revocation was due to eluding the police, you will not be able to get a TRL.

TRL for all other situations

A TRL can only be used for driving to and from specific places at specific times. You have to prove that you have a job you need to travel to, or that you need health care, access to education or substance abuse treatment. You cannot use a TRL to drive to go shopping, to go out to eat or to travel for fun. You may or may not be able to use the TRL to take your children to places they need to go (such as school, activities, etc.). Be prepared to have another plan for transportation if your request is denied. Unfortunately, it is not possible to get a TRL to operate a commercial vehicle.

The Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) is usually the final authority on whether you can get your license back, even if you lost it as part of a court proceeding.

Here are some suggestions for how to find out if you qualify for a TRL.
Know the status of your license. Pay attention to whether your license or your driving privileges have been:


Each of these means something different. Each can have a big impact on whether or not you can get your license back, or if you can get a TRL. These sanctions can occur for many different reasons. Some of the more common reasons are explained below.

SUSPENDED LICENSE: You lose permission from the IDOT to drive for a certain period of time. This is often due to traffic-related violations or false use of a license. Your license may also be suspended if you have unpaid court fines, penalties, surcharges or court costs.

REVOKED LICENSE: The IDOT has terminated your permission to drive because you have been convicted of a certain crime. These include a felony involving a car, failing to stop at an accident, lying about who owns a car, two convictions for reckless driving, drag racing or creating a police chase. Certain drug offenses will also cause a license revocation.

BARRED LICENSE: The IDOT and courts have decided that you are a "Habitual Offender" due to many legal violations involving a motor vehicle, including Driving While Suspended, Revoked or Barred. If you receive a bar, you have the right to a hearing and will probably need an attorney to help you at the hearing. A barred license can last from 1 to 6 years.

Can I apply for a TRL any time my license is suspended?

No. A TRL is not always an option. You should call the IDOT if you are not sure whether you can get a TRL. For example, a TRL is not available when a person's license has been suspended for unpaid child support or for eluding the police.

Two common situations where a TRL is available are:

  1. License suspended because of nonpayment of court fines
  2. License suspended because of an OWI

How do I apply for a TRL?

You can begin the process by filling out one of two forms found at One form is for TRL after an OWI; the other is for all other situations. For a TRL after an OWI, you will need to show that you have installed the ignition interlock device. For others, you will need to prove the necessity for you travel.

In both situations, if you are approved for the TRL, you will need to pay any penalties, take and pass necessary driver’s exams and file proof of financial responsibility.

Can I Drive and Pay Off My Fines with an Installment Agreement?
The law allows you to make an installment payment agreement through the county attorney's office. If you successfully make a payment agreement, the IDOT will restore your driving privileges. If you don't stay current with your monthly payments, your driver's license will be suspended again.

Installment agreement plans are not available in all of Iowa's counties. First, you need to contact your local county attorney's office to find out if they offer installment payment agreements. If your county does not offer an installment payment agreement, you may be able to get one in another county. If you qualify to make an installment payment agreement, you must carefully follow all instructions and complete any paperwork requested by the county attorney or the county attorney's designee. The final agreement will be in writing and you must carefully follow the agreement. Missing or late payments can result in cancellation of the payment agreement and suspension of your driving privileges again.

Iowa Legal Aid provides help to low-income Iowans. 

To apply for help from Iowa Legal Aid:

  • Call 800-532-1275.
  • Iowans age 60 and over, call 800-992-8161.
  • Apply online at
If Iowa Legal Aid cannot help, look for an attorney on “Find A Lawyer” on the Iowa State Bar Association website   A private attorney there can talk with you for a fee of $25 for 30 minutes of legal advice.
As you read this information, remember this article is not a substitute for legal advice.
Last Review and Update: Nov 29, 2022
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