With summer on the horizon in Iowa, car windows are rolling down, music is blasting, and summer travel plans are being made.

According to the Cagle Law Firm, Americans drive around 20% more miles in the summer compared to winter months. While driving home from work yesterday, I noticed a Jeep that took the side doors off for the summer. You'll see certain cars do this from time to time and it's not that uncommon but it's also not something you'll see every day.

See Also: Is It Illegal to Drive Barefoot in Iowa? 

After seeing this Jeep, a question popped into my head and I can't believe I hadn't thought of this before...where are the side mirrors?! Do cars legally need side mirrors in Iowa? What if you only have side mirrors and no rearview mirror? What if you only have a rearview mirror and no side mirrors?

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Thankfully, for questions like this, we have Legis Iowa.

Unsplash - Devon Janse van Rensburg
Unsplash - Devon Janse van Rensburg

Is It Legal?

In some cases, a work truck might not have any use for a rearview mirror. If you're hauling something that prevents you from seeing out of your rearview mirror, there's not really any point in using one. Even if you use your rearview mirror to see what's behind you, do you still need one in your vehicle?

See Also: Surprisingly This Dangerous Activity is Legal in Iowa, Sort Of...

The same question could be asked about side mirrors. If you take the doors off of your car and your side mirrors are connected to the door, are you okay with just having a review mirror? In Iowa, you might not legally need as many mirrors on/in your car as you think

According to Iowa Code 321.437

"Every motor vehicle shall be equipped with a mirror so located as to reflect to the driver a view of the highway for a distance of at least two hundred feet to the rear of such vehicle. Any motor vehicle so loaded, or towing another vehicle in such manner, as to obstruct the view in a rearview mirror located in the driver’s compartment shall be equipped with a side mirror so located that the view to the rear will not be obstructed; however, when such vehicle is not loaded or towing another vehicle the side mirrors shall be retracted or removed"

Long story short, side mirrors are only required if your view from the center mirror is obstructed. As long as you can clearly see, at least 200 feet behind your vehicle, you do not legally have to have side mirrors. Notice Code 321.437 says "shall be equipped with A mirror. It doesn't say anything about 2 side mirrors and a center/rearview mirror. "

The same would go for your center/rearview mirror. If you're driving some kind of commercial truck, a work van, Uhaul, etc, and your line of sight is completely blocked in your rearview mirror, you legally only need the side mirrors.

See Also: Can You Legally Drive With Headphones on In Iowa? 

There's no point in using a rearview mirror if you're driving something like this. Most of the time the rearview mirror is removed from vehicles like this because they serve no purpose.

Unsplash - Erik Mclean
Unsplash - Erik Mclean

As long as you can clearly see 200 feet behind you with your center mirror, legally...that's all you need.

I'd guess around 95% of Iowa drivers will never have to worry about removing their doors or side mirrors. Most people leave the doors intact, hop in their car, and go. The next time you're driving past a vehicle that has its doors removed, check to see if they put the side mirrors in a new location or if they're completely removed!

*Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. Please speak with your lawyer and/or local law enforcement regarding mirror requirements on your vehicle*

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Gallery Credit: Kerri Mac

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