Iowa Department of Public Safety Iowa State Patrol Division
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ISP Miscellaneous Information

Drug Interdiction

The Iowa State Patrol has expanded our involvement in drug interdiction along Iowa's highway system. State Troopers have received specialized training in detecting persons transporting illegal drugs. These techniques are utilized after a motorist is stopped for a violation of Iowa law. In recent years, the Iowa State Patrol has experienced significant increases in the numbers of narcotics arrests. Since 1997 the Iowa State Patrol has seized more than $13,000,000 in illegal drugs.

Operating While Intoxicated (O.W.I) Enforcement

The Iowa State Patrol continues to emphasize the importance of reducing alcohol-related accidents. Emphasis is directed to those drunken and drugged drivers on Iowa's roadways. Enforcement, education and specialized training are part of the Patrol's efforts to identify and remove the impaired driver from the highways. Annually, State Troopers arrest more the 2000 motorists for operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.


Alcohol Law Enforcement/Retailer Training (A.L.E.R.T.) is designed to reduce alcohol consumption by individuals under the age of 21. Initially developed to help in reducing sales of alcohol by retail establishments to underage persons, the ALERT program is now in its sixth year and utilized in all fourteen Patrol districts.

Occupant Restraints

Iowa law requires the use of seat belts by drivers and front-seat passengers and the use of approved child restraints for children three and under. Children six and under are required to wear seat belts. Iowa is one of only nine states, which provide for primary enforcement of occupant restraint laws. The State Patrol places continued emphasis on seat belt and child restraint compliance by motorists. Iowa ranks in the top ten states nationally with a seat belt compliance rate of 78%

Tactical Units

The Iowa State Patrol has a tactical unit in each of our 4 areas. These tactical units consist of approximately 10 State Troopers. These troopers receive specialized training in building entries, field searches, defensive tactics and weapons training. During the history of the State Patrol our tactical units have been used at Iowa’s prison and universities as well as numerous hostage and fugitive search operations. The Iowa State Patrol tactical units are available to any Iowa law enforcement agency for use in resolving serious situations

Motor Assistance Program

For several years the Iowa State Patrol has operated motor assistance vehicles along Iowa’s interstates. On a yearly basis this program helps more than 1900 stranded motorists. Our motor assistance vehicles are equipped with fuel, jumper cables and tools to help stranded motorists make minor repairs. In addition to these services the motorist assistance driver can provide directions and transport stranded motorists to a safe location nearby. Each year the motorist assistance drivers travel more than 110,000 miles.


VASCAR is a time and distance speed measurement device that is used to enforce speeding laws. VASCAR stands for Visual Average Speed Computer and Recorder. The VASCAR calculates speed by using the basic speed formula; Speed equals Distance divided by Time.The VASCAR consists of two components: the control head and the odometer module. The odometer module is a transducer that sends magnetic pulses to the VASCAR computer. The VASCAR computer counts these magnetic pulses and then uses them as the distance input for the speed formula.The control head contains the VASCAR computer as well as all operational switches, buttons, and the LED readout. The face of the control head contains the following components: On/Off power switch, Time switch, Distance switch, Time recall button, Distance recall button, 5 thumb wheels, and a display.>

The Iowa State Patrol currently maintains several of these units for enforcing Iowa's speeding laws.

Blood and Eye Relays

The Iowa State Patrol volunteers to transport emergency blood relays all across Iowa. Anytime an emergency situation arises a physician can request the Iowa State Patrol to transport blood from one medical facility to another. Often times the Iowa State Patrol can transport the needed blood faster than any other source. State Troopers pick up the blood relay and either drive to the needed patient location or if an Iowa State Patrol aircraft is available the blood relay is flown to the nearest airport where another trooper will pick up the relay and transport it to the medical facility.

In addition to the blood relays, the Iowa State Patrol also works with the Lions Eye Bank Program. When someone donates their eyes after they have passed away, we will transport the eyes to the University of Iowa Hospital’s in Iowa City. Each year the Iowa State Patrol helps the Lions Eye Bank fulfill their goal to helps people regain their sight and to help others though eye research. Troopers performing their regularly assigned duties complete these eye relays.

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