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Cell Phone and Texting While Driving Bans: Laws in the 50 States

| July 10, 2011

Detail from Joe Thompson's sculpture, 'Preparing to Shrug' (2010).

Cell Phone and Texting While Driving: Laws in the 50 States, DC and Territories

Data Last Updated: July 2011
Total States9 + D.C., Virgin Islands
Primary (8)
Secondary (1)
19 + D.C.
All Primary
30 + D.C.
Primary (25 + D.C.)
Secondary (5)
34 + D.C., Guam
Primary (30 + D.C., Guam)
Secondary (4)
3
All Primary
7
All Primary
34 + D.C., Virgin Islands
STATE
HANDHELD BAN
ALL CELL PHONE BAN
TEXT MESSAGING BAN
CRASH DATA
School Bus Drivers
Novice Drivers
All Drivers
School Bus Drivers
Novice Drivers
Alabama16, or 17 w/ Intermediate License <6 months
(Primary)
16, or 17 w/ Intermediate License <6 months
(Primary)
AlaskaYes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver banYes
ArizonaYes (Primary)
Arkansas18 - 20 years old (Primary)Yes
(Primary)
<18
(Secondary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver banYes
CaliforniaYes
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
<18
(Secondary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver banYes
Colorado<18
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban
ConnecticutYes
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
<18
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban
DelawareYes
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Learner or Intermediate License (Primary)Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban
D.C.Yes
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Learners Permit
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban
Florida
No laws whatsoever
GeorgiaYes
(Primary)
<18
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver banYes
Guam Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban
HawaiiHawaii does not have a state law banning the use of handheld cell phones. However, all of the state's counties have enacted distracted driving ordinances.
IdahoIdaho has a "Distraction in/on Vehicle (List)" attribute as part of its Contributing Circumstances element, and officers are supposed to list the distractions in the narrative.
IllinoisHandheld cells banned while driving in school or highway construction zones.Yes (Primary)<19 (Primary)Yes (Primary)Covered under all driver banYes
Indiana <18
(Primary)
Yes (Primary)
Covered under all driver banYes
IowaRestricted or intermediate License
(Primary)
Yes
(Secondary)
Covered under all driver banYes
KansasLearner or Intermediate License
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver banYes
KentuckyYes (Primary)<18
(Primary)
Yes (Primary)Covered under all driver ban
LouisianaLearner or Intermediate License
(regardless of age)
Yes (Primary)1st year of License
(Primary for <18)
Yes (Primary)Covered under all driver banYes
Maine <18
(Primary)
Yes (Primary)Covered under all driver banYes
MarylandYes
(Secondary)
<18 w/ Learner or Provisional License
(Secondary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver banYes
MassachusettsYes
(Primary)
<18
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver banYes
MichiganSee footnote.Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver banYes
MinnesotaYes
(Primary)
<18 w/ Learner or Provisional License
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver banYes
MississippiYes
(Primary)
(eff. 7/1/11)
Yes
(Primary)
(eff. 7/1/11)
Learner or Provisional License
(Primary)
Missouri<21
(Primary)
MontanaYes
Nebraska<18 w/ Learner or Intermediate License
(Secondary)
Yes
(Secondary)
Covered under all driver banYes
NevadaYes
(Primary)
(eff. 1/1/12)
Yes
(Primary)
(eff. 1/1/12)
Covered under all driver banYes
New Hampshire Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban
New Jersey Yes
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Permit or Provisional License
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver banYes
New MexicoIn State vehiclesLearner or Provisional License
(Primary)
Learner or Provisional License
(Primary)
Yes
New York Yes
(Primary)
Yes
(Secondary)
Covered under all driver banYes
North Carolina Yes
(Primary)
<18
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver ban
North Dakota<18
(Primary)
(eff. 1/1/12)
Yes (Primary)
Covered under all driver banYes
Ohio
No laws whatsoever
OklahomaLearner or Intermediate License
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Learner or Intermediate License
(Primary)
Yes
OregonYes
(Primary)
<18 (Primary)Yes (Primary)Covered under all driver banYes
PennsylvaniaYes
Rhode IslandYes
(Primary)
<18
(Primary)
Yes
(Primary)
Covered under all driver banYes
South CarolinaSouth Carolina has a Distracted/inattention attribute under Contributing Factors.
South DakotaYes
TennesseeYes (Primary)Learner or Intermediate License (Primary)Yes (Primary)Covered under all driver banYes
TexasYes, w/ passenger <17
(Primary)
Intermediate License, 1st 12 mos.
(Primary)
Yes, w/ passenger <17
(Primary)
Intermediate License, 1st 12 mos.
(Primary)
Yes
UtahYes (Primary)Covered under all driver banYes
Vermont<18 (Primary)Yes (Primary)Covered under all driver ban
Virgin IslandsYesYes
VirginiaYes (Primary)<18 (Secondary)Yes (Secondary)Covered under all driver ban (Primary)Covered under all driver banYes
WashingtonYes (Primary)Learner or Intermediate Licence (Primary)Yes (Primary)Covered under all driver banYes
West Virginia<18 w/ Learner or Intermediate Licence
(Primary)
<18 w/ Learner or Intermediate Licence
(Primary)
WisconsinYes (Primary)Covered under all driver ban
WyomingYes (Primary)Covered under all driver banYes
In Michigan, teens with probationary licenses whose cell phone usage contributes to a traffic crash or ticket may not use a cell phone while driving.
Utah's law defines careless driving as committing a moving violation (other than speeding) while distracted by use of a handheld cellphone or other activities not related to driving.
Source: Governors Highway Safety Association (ghsa.org).

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1 Response for “Cell Phone and Texting While Driving Bans: Laws in the 50 States”

  1. poseidon says:

    According to a study by the Governors Highway Safety Association, 25% of U.S. car crashes are associated with drivers distracted by a cellphone or gadget.

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