Iowa motor vehicle enforcement officer duties
A motor vehicle enforcement officer is a peace officer whose primary duty is to enforce all state and federal regulations that apply to commercial vehicles travelling Iowa's roadways. Some of the laws enforced relate to the following.
- State and federal motor carrier safety regulations
- State and federal hazardous materials regulations
- Driver qualifications/driver licensing
- Vehicle registration
- Overweight and over-dimensional vehicles
- Fuel tax compliance
- Shipping papers
- Travel authority
- Liability insurance
Job duties include, but are not limited to:
- Inspecting commercial vehicles and drivers to determine compliance with state and federal laws relating to driver qualification, hours of service, driver licensing, vehicle size, weight and vehicle safety compliance.
- Enforcing traffic laws to promote safety, reduce crashes and expedite traffic flow.
- Assisting other law enforcement officers when requested or when situation dictates.
- Preparing and testifying in court to present the facts surrounding any civil, criminal or departmental action.
History of Iowa motor vehicle enforcement
In 1941, engineers of the Iowa State Highway Commission became concerned with the increasing number of overweight trucks that would, over time, contribute greatly to a gradual destruction of Iowa highways. A decision was made to pursue legislation for the highway commission to designate certain employees as peace officers to enforce violations regarding weight and size. On April 16, 1941, such a proposal was signed into law by Governor Wilson, and on July 1 of that same year the traffic weight officer of the highway commission became reality.
The Iowa Department of Transportation was formed by an act of the Iowa Legislature effective July 1, 1975. Officers of the Iowa Commerce Commission, traffic weight officers of the highway commission, and the motor vehicle investigators from the Iowa Department of Public Safety were combined as the Office of Motor Vehicle Enforcement.
Responsibilities of the uniformed officer continued to include enforcement of the laws relating to size, weight, registration and authority. Responsibilities of the investigators included enforcement of the laws relating to vehicle registration, dealer licensing and motor vehicle inspection. All officers and investigators are required to successfully complete the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy's basic training requirements.
From the early 1980s to the present additional duties have been added to the uniformed officer's existing responsibilities, including Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, hazardous materials regulations, and the use of untaxed fuel. Investigators have taken on odometer tampering, driver license fraud, use tax investigations and salvage theft examinations.
Modern technology, including weigh-in-motion, portable scales, weapons, preliminary breath testers, pen-based computers and mobile data transmission capabilities in the patrol cars have been added to enhance the motor vehicle officer position.
Training, including the North American Standard Inspection class, hazardous materials and cargo tank courses, firearms training, self-defense classes, and a 14-week field training officer program for new officers, has added to the professionalism of the office.
In 1993, two new weigh stations were opened in Dallas and Jasper counties. These facilities include the latest in technology with computerized work stations, in-line ramp weigh-in-motion technology, and license plate readers. In 2000, a new state-of-the-art mainline weigh-in-motion scale was opened in Fremont County.
The Office of Motor Vehicle Enforcement includes 130 officers and investigators dedicated to highway safety.
Career opportunities for a motor vehicle enforcement officer
In order to become an Iowa motor vehicle enforcement officer, persons must successfully complete the following four required tests.
- Fitness (Cooper Standards)
- P.O.S.T (Peace Officer Selection Test)
- M.M.P.I (Minnesota Multiphasic Psychological Evaluation)
- Oral Board
Certified Iowa peace officers are not required to a fitness test, as per Iowa Admin. Code r. 501-2.3(80B). All applicants must successfully complete motor vehicle enforcement fitness requirements.
Applicants are responsible for all personal costs (e.g., transportation, lodging, meals) incurred during the testing process.
As peace officers with statewide jurisdiction, the primary job responsibility of a motor vehicle enforcement officer is enforcement of commercial motor vehicle laws, rules and regulations.
Law Enforcement Careers with Motor Vehicle Enforcement brochure
- Be a United States citizen and become an Iowa resident.
- Be at least 18 years of age.
- Possess a valid Iowa driver's license.
- Possess a high school diploma or general education development (GED) diploma.
- Be in acceptable physical and mental condition to perform his/her duties under physically demanding conditions.
- Have uncorrected vision no worse than 20/100 in each eye, corrected to 20/20 in each eye.
- Have normal color vision as prescribed by Iowa Law Enforcement Academy rules: Color vision is determined by the pseudoischromatic plates tests such as, but not limited to, the American Optical Co. (Required identification of 14 out of 18 plates.)
- Have normal hearing in each ear. (Hearing is considered normal when tested by an audiometer and hearing sensitivity thresholds are within 25 db measured at 1000 hz, 2000 hz and 3000 hz averaged together.)
- Have no history of epilepsy.
- Have refrained from unlawful use or experimentation of any drug. Unlawful use or experimentation of marijuana or steroids may disqualify an applicant.
- Not have a conviction of domestic assault.
- Be willing to relocate.
- Pass a background examination, including fingerprint search through state and national files.
If hired as a motor vehicle enforcement officer and with proper training, applicants shall be required to demonstrate the ability to perform the following essential functions.
- Travel and stay out overnight approximately three to five times per month.
- Meet or exceed minimum Iowa Law Enforcement standards with an issued firearm.
- Successfully operate Windows-based computer programs.
- Load, unload, carry and use 45-pound portable scales, which includes stooping, bending and twisting of the body on a frequent basis.
- Effectively communicate with a diverse population in varying situations.
- When warranted, use force, up to and including deadly force.
- Perform multiple functions while attending to detail.
- Work a rotating schedule, which includes days, nights and weekends.
- Respond to short-notice schedule changes.
- Climb in, on, under and around commercial vehicles.
- Perform emergency functions (including, but not limited to, traffic control at floods, tornadoes, hazardous material incidents, traffic accidents, etc.) for extended periods of time in less than ideal conditions.
Pay scale under current contract (July 2010):
- $1,479.20 to $2,212.80 (biweekly)
- $38,459.20 to $57,332.80 (annual)
- Paid vacation
- Paid sick leave
- $20,000 paid life insurance
- Medical and dental insurance
- Pretax conversion program
- Iowa Public Employees Retirement System (IPERS) with retirement available at 55 after 22 years of service.
- Deferred compensation
If you believe you meet the minimum qualifications and with proper training can perform the essential functions of a motor vehicle enforcement officer with the Iowa DOT, you are encouraged to request an employment application packet during open application periods.