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State Laws for Cell Phones While Driving

Here's what you need to know...
  • Most of the states in the U.S. have laws concerning cell phone usage while driving
  • Countless accidents are caused each year when people talk on their phones or text while driving
  • Laws are constantly changing, so it is best to avoid using your phone in the car, even if your state does not currently have a law concerning cell phone usage

State laws vary when it comes to driving while using a cell phone. While some states have completely banned talking on a cell phone while driving, others allow hands-free devices like earphones or Bluetooth.

In addition, many states are beginning to ban texting while driving and research shows drivers who don’t talk or text while driving are safer drivers and less likely to get into an accident than someone who is distracted.

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States That Have a Handheld Cell Phone Ban

woman driver hands use cellphone driving a car

More and more states are completely banning handheld cell phone use while driving.

This restriction includes even holding your phone away from your face while talking. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the states that have implemented this ban include:

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Washington, D.C.
  • Georgia (under 18 only)
  • Illinois (work or school zone only)
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts (depending on local jurisdiction)
  • Michigan (depending on local jurisdiction)
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico (depending on local jurisdiction)
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio (depending on local jurisdiction)
  • Oklahoma (permit holders only)
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania (depending on local jurisdiction)
  • Texas (school zones only)
  • Washington

States That Do Not Allow Cell Phones While Driving

Road transportation. Beautiful young woman driver driving a car. Attractive brunette going on a trip travel.

Some states do not allow cell phone use at all, even with a hands-free option. Usually, this is restricted to younger drivers, but it is becoming more and more common.

The states that have some type of restriction on hands-free cell phone usage include:

  • Alabama (between 16 and 17 years of age and six months or less of driving experience)
  • Arizona (drivers of school buses only)
  • Arkansas (drivers of school buses and drivers under 18 years of age)
  • California (school bus driver and drivers under 18 years of age)
  • Colorado (drivers under 18)
  • Connecticut (school bus driver and drivers under 18 years of age)
  • Delaware (school bus driver and drivers less than 18 years of age)
  • Washington, D.C. (school bus driver and drivers with a learner’s permit)
  • Georgia (school bus driver and drivers under 18 years of age)
  • Illinois (school bus driver and drivers less than 19 years of age)
  • Indiana (any drivers under the age of 18)
  • Iowa (learner’s permit holders)
  • Kansas (learner’s permit holders)
  • Kentucky (school bus drivers and drivers under 18 years of age)
  • Louisiana (drivers of school buses, drivers under 18 years of age)
  • Maine (learner’s permit holders)
  • Maryland (drivers of school buses and learner’s permit holders)
  • Massachusetts (school and passenger bus drivers and drivers younger than 18 years of age)
  • Minnesota (drivers of school buses and provisional license holders)
  • Mississippi (drivers of school buses)
  • Nebraska (learner’s permit holders)
  • New Jersey (drivers of school buses and learner’s permit holders)
  • New Mexico (learners permit holders)
  • North Carolina (drivers of school buses and drivers younger than 18 years of age)
  • North Dakota (drivers younger than 18 years of age)
  • Oklahoma (school bus and public transit drivers)
  • Oregon (drivers younger than 18 years of age)
  • Rhode Island (drivers of school buses and drivers younger than 18 years of age)
  • Tennessee (drivers of school buses and learner’s permit holders)
  • Texas (all bus drivers and drivers younger than 18 years of age)
  • Vermont (any drivers younger than 18 years of age)
  • Virginia (drivers of school buses and any drivers under 18 years of age)
  • Washington (learner’s permit holders)
  • West Virginia (drivers younger than 18 years of age)

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Texting While Driving

Finally, texting while driving has become a major issue in law enforcement and a reason why there are more accidents on the road than ever before.

Distracted drivers who text are taking their eyes off the road for an extended period of time.

They are, therefore, getting into more accidents and causing more fatalities than ever before. In an effort to combat these problems, more than 30 states now have a law when it comes to texting and driving:

  • Alaska (any drivers)
  • Arkansas (any drivers)
  • California (any drivers)
  • Colorado (any drivers)
  • Connecticut (any drivers)
  • Delaware (any drivers)
  • Washington, D.C. (any drivers)
  • Georgia (any drivers)
  • Illinois (any drivers)
  • Indiana (any drivers)
  • Iowa (any drivers)
  • Kansas (any drivers)
  • Kentucky (any drivers)
  • Louisiana (any drivers)
  • Maine (any drivers)
  • Maryland (any drivers)
  • Massachusetts (any drivers)
  • Michigan (any drivers)
  • Minnesota (any drivers)
  • Mississippi (permit holders only)
  • Missouri (drivers 21 years old or younger)
  • Nebraska (any drivers)
  • Nevada (any drivers)
  • New Hampshire (any drivers)
  • New Jersey (any drivers)
  • New York (any drivers)
  • North Carolina (any drivers)
  • North Dakota (any drivers)
  • Oklahoma (permit holders and school bus and public transit drivers)
  • Oregon (any drivers)
  • Rhode Island (any drivers)
  • Tennessee (any drivers)
  • Texas (drivers in school zones, new license holders, bus drivers with children under age 17 as passengers)
  • Utah (any drivers)
  • Vermont (any drivers)
  • Virginia (any drivers)
  • Washington (any drivers)
  • West Virginia (drivers younger than 18 years of age)
  • Wisconsin (any drivers)
  • Wyoming (any drivers)

It is important to check with your state to see if there have been any recent changes to the law regarding cell phone use in the car.

As a general rule, it is always better not to use your cell phone while driving, and if you must make or take a call, pull over to the side of the road.

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