There are many different and dangerous distractions people face while driving. Most are illegal. Texting, being top of mind. Obviously drinking and driving is highly illegal. Pretty much anything that puts you, and your fellow motorists and pedestrians in danger. One such I thought was illegal in Iowa, is not. And, I was shocked to learn this. Of course, I would not have ever learned anything if not for first assuming someone was doing something illegal.

I guess I should start there. Since this is an apology letter after all. I will tell you how I got to researching this, what I was hoping, was me proving someone WRONG. Oops. Ok, this weekend I was at the Starbucks in Cedar Falls. I went inside with my mask on and waited for my order. As I did this, I peaked outside and noticed and noticed a motorist in the drive-thru wearing his Apple Airpods. In case you're not aware, these are the earbud headphones made by Apple, the company behind the iPhone, iPad etc. I thought to myself, 'that's illegal.' I had a good reason for thinking it was. You see, in my home state of Minnesota, it is illegal. A friend of mine got busted for speeding some years ago, and then got a stern warning about his headphones. The officer did not issue him a ticket for wearing them, but she informed my buddy that's actually not legal to do in Minnesota.

I went home, and told my wife. She's an Iowa native who learned to drive in the state. She told me she thought I was wrong and that it was not illegal in the Hawkeye State. Well, I did some research and sure enough, I couldn't find any laws on the books stating the legality, or illegality of wearing headphones while driving. I did discover my buddy (and the officer who popped him for speeding) were correct about it being illegal in Minnesota. But nothing about Iowa.

phablet and headphones on the wooden desk

But I wasn't satisfied with simply Google searches, or the lack of a written rule. I reached out to Black Hawk County sheriff and area rock star, Tony Thompson for clarification or, confirmation more like it. His response is as follows,

There is not an Iowa law that prohibits the wearing of headphones while driving, though distracted driving is a codified charge which could be pursued in appropriate conditions depending on the situation.


In other words, you wouldn't get pulled over for simply wearing them. But, Sheriff Thompson went on to say,

In fact, an earbud and hands-free phone use would be encouraged by law enforcement over some of the crazy things that we’ve witnessed on our roadways!

There you have it. From a guy who's been at it for a long time. Some would encourage headphones! So... with that, to the gentleman in the Starbucks drive-thru line who I thought was breaking the law, you were not. I'm sorry. Enjoy your music. OH, and a suggestion for what to listen to next: Our app.

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