Law Enforcement Sting Outside Glenwood & Muscatine

I heard today that Iowa law enforcement will be doing a sting outside Glenwood on Saturday and outside Muscatine on Saturday. Specifically, they will be stopping buses/large vehicles to ensure that if the bus has more than 16 people (including the driver), the driver has been certified with some type of special training. I was told that if the driver has not received this training (and can prove their certification), the bus will NOT be allowed to proceed. Has anyone else heard of this and is it accurate? How does one go about getting certification?

17 Replies

Jack in VA, July 12, 2016 at 10:04 pm

Not sure of Iowa laws, but most busses might fall under CDL (commercial drivers license) requirements – particularly regarding the number of passengers and because the vehicles use air brakes. Makes sense that not only the drivers meet these requirements, but the passengers know whether the vehicle they’re riding in is safe and roadworthy.
A few years back, one of the busses lost their brakes on the last day on the hill coming into town; nobody was badly hurt, but God help us if there were bikes on the road, or additional passengers on the bus.


Mark Hartung, July 12, 2016 at 10:10 pm

Thanks for the reply. I heard the required certification was IN ADDITION TO requiring the driver to have their CDL.


Sunny Carithers, July 12, 2016 at 10:14 pm

I can tell you a little something about Muscatine. I’ve rarely traveled in or through that town without getting some sort of ticket. Don’t drive 1 mile per hour above the speed limit. Do not squeeze the lemon through stop lights, and always make sure the parking meters are plugged even if it’s before or after meter hours.
It’s seriously ridiculous.


GORDON BROWN, July 13, 2016 at 7:32 am

“Don’t squeeze the lemon through stop lights”, thanks for a new saying. Love it.


jwsknk, July 13, 2016 at 7:58 am

last year or 2 years ago some got stopped. checked for CDL and told they needed to add another tail light because bikes on the back partially obscured the one on the bus.


KenH, July 13, 2016 at 8:28 am

If you want to know then check out the Iowa department of motor vehicles (or whatever they call it) web site. I am sure the rules are spelled out there and if they are like Illinois they will be difficult to find. I would think that if you are certified to drive your team vehicle in your home state then Iowa would honor that certification even if their laws are somewhat different. Interstate commerce would come to a halt if this were not true.

However, it is always possible that your team bus driver is flying under the radar as far as your home state rules are concerned and probably without knowing that. Most states in the union give ordinary citizens a class C driver’s license which allows them to drive almost anything an ordinary citizen would ever want to drive. Illinois is not frugal with the taxpayer’s dollars so I guess to compensate for that they are very frugal with ordinary driver’s licenses: ours are only class D. So, any Illinois resident who wants to drive a motorhome, for example, heavier than 16k pounds should get something that is known absurdly as a “non-CDL” driver’s license in Illinois parlance. Most people who own motorhomes in Illinois are unaware of this until that rare case where the law is enforced on them. It has been a while since I looked at this (since my motorhome is too small to trigger the law as it turns out) but I think that Illinois school bus drivers are also required to have our “non-CDL” driver’s license.

I would say that at a minimum you want to make sure that your driver is properly licensed and certificated to operate the vehicle you have in your home state. In an ideal world that would be enough but as I say even that can be difficult to do because stipulations that affect only a few drivers are not widely discussed. You might want to look specifically at your home state requirements for school bus drivers since this type of operation is broadly similar. It is probably too late to do anything about it this year but next year you should make sure to get it done.


jwsknk, July 13, 2016 at 10:23 am

also are you a bus or a RV? different license, rules and insurance. a couple years ago there was a link to that set of regulations


navychief01, July 13, 2016 at 4:36 pm

If true this is a great way to get people to not come on RAGBRAI. Yeah, a vehicle should be safe, but what’s the difference between me driving a fully loaded big-ass UHaul with just my normal license, and driving a school bus with some passengers and some bikes on the roof? Maybe I’ll just take my money to Omaha on Saturday, pull up short of Muscatine on Saturday with the other riders in my team and spend the money in Iowa City (or Moline).


Brian Wallenburg, July 13, 2016 at 7:22 pm

I would say the biggest differences include the number of passengers and air brakes, depending on the bus or RV.


Andy Rosenbalm, July 13, 2016 at 7:32 pm

I found this online hope it will help


Sandaltan ., July 13, 2016 at 10:00 pm

Well done Mr. A.

I can tell you almost for sure that if some yahoo riding in your bus throws a beer can at or even near an Iowa Highway Patrol officer your bus will immediately become the most fascinating motor vehicle on the road. Your motor vehicle will sit on the side of the road in the hot sun until it has been thoroughly inspected and the operator has been judged to be sober and of high character and in possession of all the proper documents. I have seen it happen.

As to a planned “sting”….I don’t think so.



Jack in VA, July 13, 2016 at 10:24 pm

I believe the word “STING” is quite improper in this thread; the ISP are not out to “throw us under the bus” – If they do set up an inspection station, it is only to ensure that the vehicles are safe and legal. I do know of one team whose bus was “busted” a few years back because it was horribly unsafe; a brake line was leaking, and the driver just kept adding brake fluid to it every few days. Fortunately, the inspector saw it and pulled them from the road. The team was pissed – cuz they had to wait for a day in a small town to get it repaired and back on the road again. Personally, I’d rather be “pissed – and SAFE” as opposed to “UNAWARE – and in the back end of a car in front of me” cuz the brakes failed.

Many of these vehicles are only used a few times each year, and they don’t receive the maintenance and inspections necessary to ensure they are completely roadworthy. For those who are using busses like these, PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE make sure they are thoroughly inspected and completely ready for a week on the roads of Iowa – for the sake of your riders and everyone else on the road near you.


KenH, July 14, 2016 at 11:32 am

Yes, sting is an uncharitable word to use although I can understand how the prospect of running afoul of these requirements could be an unfortunate last minute planning headache. These laws were instituted to address some real issue that had been observed before they were passed. It may or may not be appropriate to enforce them at an event like RAGBRAI but given RAGBRAI’s long history in Iowa and the many converted school buses it attracts it is quite possible that they were written specifically to address a safety concern that arose out of RAGBRAI. Given what Mark H heard I would say that arosenbalm’s link does indeed point to the relevant portions of the Iowa code. I’ve never notice them posted or discussed on the RAGBRAI website where newbie teams could see them and prepare to comply with them in advance and I think that should be done, if anyone at the Register is listening.

My advice, and one should never take legal advice from an electrical engineer, would be to do what you can to comply. Time is very short but there may be some things you could do. Obviously you have no guarantee of freedom from “imperial complications” unless you comply fully.

It does appear that the rules for bus conversions that meet the requirements to be classified as a motorhome are easier to comply with. So, for people who are considering the purchase of a bus to convert for team use you might want to give some thought to keeping the result in the motorhome category. I’ve often thought that if I were to do this I would rip out some seats in the back to put in bunk beds and I went so far with that kind of paper design to see how many beds I could put in a bus before I ran out of seats to transport the occupants during the drive to and from home. I believe that the number was somewhere in the 12-15 range for a typical size of school bus and that would allow you to use a driver without a CDL which would be a plus. In fact no special license would be required if the driver qualified as uncompensated. You would need to add some other systems to the bus but only things you might like to have anyway. But the principle is that if you are planning to build a team bus you should design it to make the task of complying with this law no harder than you are willing to deal with.


Rick, July 15, 2016 at 4:51 am

I can’t imagine the Iowa State Police doing anything to hamper what is probably the biggest tourist money maker in the state. Additionally, many riders seem to rationalize spending a little too much money here and there on RAGBRAI as a sort of donation to the local citizenry and economy; The Iowa State police are certainly aware of this. This almost half century ride is very successful for many reasons, there is a lot of planning and lobbying for towns to be on the route: how many have ever seen the manual distributed to towns with the economic breakdowns and surveys? Even the free water is at the end of the towns, typically, to enhance sales. They’re not going to jeopardize this golden egg with ‘sting operations.’


Rick, July 15, 2016 at 5:15 am

Additionally, as an edit (no edit feature….)to above. Many of these buses have already safely traveled half way across the country just to get to Iowa to get inspected for safety?


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