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Cellular Phone Use and Texting While Driving Laws

Cellular Phone Use and Texting While Driving Laws

6/30/2014

The prevalence of cellular phones, new research, and publicized crashes has started many debates related to the role cell phones play in driver distraction.  This chart details state cellular phone use and texting while driving laws.

  • Hand-held Cell Phone Use Ban: 13 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving.
  • All Cell Phone ban: No state bans all cell phone use for all drivers, but 37 states and D.C. ban all cell phone use by novice or teen drivers, and 20 states and D.C. prohibit any cell phone use for school bus drivers.
  • Text Messaging ban: 44 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers.
    • 4 states prohibit text messaging by novice or teen drivers.
    • 3 states restrict school bus drivers from texting.

Source:  Governor’s Highway Safety Administration.

The box allows you to conduct a full text search or use the dropdown menu option to select a state. 

States Hand-held ban All cell phone ban Texting ban Enforcement Crash Data Collection 
Alabama No Drivers age 16 and 17 who have held an intermediate license for less than 6 months. All drivers

Primary: texting by all drivers
Secondary: cell phone use by young drivers

 
Alaska No No All drivers Primary: texting by all drivers Yes
Arizona No School bus drivers No Primary: cell phone use by school bus drivers  
Arkansas Drivers ages 18 to 20 years of age School bus drivers, drivers younger than 18 All drivers

Primary: for texting by all drivers and cell phone use by school bus drivers.
Secondary: for cell phone use by young drivers

Yes
California All drivers School and transit bus drivers and drivers younger than 18 All drivers Primary: hand held and texting by all drivers.
Secondary: all cell phone use by young drivers.
Yes
Colorado No Drivers younger than 18 All drivers Primary: for texting by all drivers and for drivers younger than 18. Yes
Connecticut All drivers Learner's permit holders, drivers younger than 18, and school bus drivers All drivers Primary: for all offenses.  
Delaware All drivers Learner's permit and intermediate license holders and school bus drivers All drivers Primary: for all offenses.

Yes

District of Columbia All drivers School bus drivers and learner's permit holders All drivers Primary: for all offenses. Yes
Florida No No All drivers (effective 10/01/13) Secondary: for texting by all drivers. Yes
Georgia Drivers younger than 18 School bus drivers. Drivers younger than 18. All drivers Primary: for all offenses. Yes
Hawaii All Drivers
(effective 7-1-13)
Drivers younger than 18 All Drivers Primary: for all offenses.  
Idaho No No All Drivers Primary: for texting by all drivers. Yes***
Illinois All Drivers Learner's permit holders younger than 19, drivers younger than 19, and school bus drivers All drivers Primary: for all offenses. Yes
Indiana No Drivers under the age of 18. All drivers Primary: for all offenses. Yes
Iowa No Learner's permit and intermediate license holders All drivers Primary: for drivers cell phone use by young drivers.
Secondary: for texting by all drivers.
Yes
Kansas No Learner's permit and intermediate license holders All drivers Primary: for all offenses. Yes
Kentucky No Drivers younger than 18, School Bus Drivers. All drivers Primary: for all offenses. Yes
Louisiana No School bus drivers, learner's permit and intermediate license holders, drivers under age 18 All drivers Primary: for all offenses. Yes
Maine** No Learner's permit and intermediate license holders All drivers Primary: for all offenses. Yes
Maryland All drivers, School Bus Drivers. Learner's permit and intermediate license holders under 18. School bus drivers. All drivers Primary: for all offenses. (effective 10/01/13) Yes
Massachusetts Local option School bus drivers,
passenger bus drivers, drivers younger than 18.
All drivers Primary: for all offenses. Yes
Michigan Local option Level 1 or 2 license holders. All drivers Primary: for texting by all drivers and level 1 or 2 license holders. Yes
Minnesota No School bus drivers, learner's permit holders, and provisional license holders during the first 12 months after licensing   All drivers Primary: for all offenses. Yes
Mississippi No School bus drivers. Learner's permit holders and intermediate license holders Primary: School bus drivers and young drivers. Yes
Missouri No No Drivers 21 years or younger. Primary: Drivers 21 years or younger  
Montana No No No Not applicable Yes
Nebraska No Learner's permit and intermediate license holders younger than 18

All drivers

Secondary: for all offenses. Yes
Nevada All drivers No   All drivers Primary: for all offenses. Yes
New Hampshire No No All drivers Primary  
New Jersey All drivers School bus drivers, and learner's permit and intermediate license holders All drivers  Primary: for all offenses. Yes
New Mexico Local option Learners permit and intermediate license holders.

All Drivers (effective July 2014)

Primary: texting by all drivers. Yes
New York All drivers No All drivers Primary: for all offenses. Yes
North Carolina No Drivers younger than 18 and school bus drivers All drivers Primary: for all offenses.  
North Dakota Drivers younger than 18 Drivers younger than 18 All drivers Primary: for all offenses. Yes
Ohio Local option Drivers younger than 18. All drivers Primary: for drivers younger than 18.
Secondary: for texting by all drivers.
 
Oklahoma Learner's permit and intermediate license holders, school bus drivers and public transit drivers School Bus Drivers and Public Transit Drivers Learner's permit holders, intermediate license holders, school bus drivers and public transit drivers Primary: for all offenses. Yes
Oregon All drivers Drivers younger than 18 All drivers Primary: for all offenses. Yes
Pennsylvania Local option No All drivers Primary: for texting by all drivers. Yes
Puerto Rico All drivers   All drivers Primary: for all offenses.   
Rhode Island No School bus drivers and drivers younger than 18 All drivers Primary: for all offenses. Yes
South Carolina No No All drivers Primary Yes***
South Dakota No Learner's permit and intermediate license holders (effective 07/01/14) All drivers (effective 07/01/14) Secondary: for all offenses. (effective 07/01/14) Yes
Tennessee No School bus drivers, and learner's permit and intermediate license holders All drivers Primary: for all offenses. Yes
Texas Drivers in school crossing zones Bus drivers. Drivers younger than 18 Bus drivers when a passenger 17 and younger is present; intermediate license holders for first 12 months, drivers in school crossing zones Primary: for all offenses. Yes
Utah See footnote* Drivers under
the age of 18.
All drivers

Primary for texting; secondary for talking on hand-held phone

Yes
Vermont All drivers (effective 10/2014) Drivers younger than 18 shall not use any portable electronic device while driving. All drivers Primary: for all offenses.  
Virgin Islands Yes       Yes
Virginia No Drivers younger than 18 and school bus drivers

 All drivers

Primary: for texting by all drivers.   (effective 07/01/13) 
Secondary: for drivers younger than 18.
Yes
Washington All drivers Learners permit and intermediate license holders.  All drivers Primary: for all offenses. Yes
West Virginia All Drivers Drivers younger than 18 who hold either a learner's permit or an intermediate license   All drivers Primary: for all offenses.  
Wisconsin No Learner or
Intermediate
License holder
All drivers Primary: for all offenses.  
Wyoming No No All drivers Primary: for all offenses. Yes
Total All drivers: 13 states and District of Columbia, Guam, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. School Bus drivers: 20 states and District of Columbia.
Teen drivers: 37 states and District of Columbia.
All Drivers: 44 states and District of Columbia, Guam, Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. Primary for all drivers texting: 39.
Secondary for all drivers texting: 5
48 and U.S. Virgin Islands and District of Columbia.
Source: Source Insurance Institute for Highway Safety 2013.
Governor’s Highway Safety Association
.
* Utah considers speaking on a cell phone, without a hands-free device, to be an offense only if a driver is also committing some other moving violation (other than speeding).
** Maine has a law that makes driving while distracted a traffic infraction. 29-A M.R.S.A. Sec. 2117.
*** Listed as a part of contributing factors

 

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