Cell Phone Usage While Driving Laws by State

person driving with phone

Everyone knows that texting and driving is dangerous, but did you know that even talking on the phone can be dangerous? Statistics for distracted driving show that nine people die and another 1,000 are injured in distracted driving accidents each day, and that’s just within the U.S. 

That’s why states create laws around cell phone use for drivers. Each state has their own rules on how or when a driver can use their cell phone, which makes this essential to know when crossing state lines. Here’s the breakdown. 

Handheld Bans

Bans on handheld use mean drivers need to use technology like Bluetooth or voice commands to use their phones while driving. D.C., Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands have all banned handheld use. 

There are also 20 states with variations of the same ban. Some are restricted by age, while others focus on work zones and occupation. Bus drivers, especially for schools, are often cited. States without handheld bans or restrictions include:

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Colorado
  • Florida
  • Idaho
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • North and South Carolina
  • North and South Dakota
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin 
  • Wyoming

Complete Ban with Caveats

A complete ban means that drivers cannot use any aspect of their cellphone while driving. This includes texts, calls, apps, voice features…everything. However, most states do not enforce this ban on all drivers. D.C., along with 38 states, enforce these bans for novice and teen drivers as well as school bus drivers. States who do not enforce any from of restriction or ban include:

  • Alaska
  • Florida
  • Idaho
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nevada
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • Wyoming

Texting Ban

A texting ban differs from calls. States may have different rules about handheld calling, but this ban prohibits anyone from texting while behind the wheel. D.C., Guam, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico all enforce a texting ban. There are 48 states that do so as well. The only ones that do not enforce a texting ban are:

  • Montana
  • Missouri, only enforced for drivers 21 and younger

Driving Within the Law

It’s important to remember that several states enforce partial restrictions or bans depending on locality and the area you’re driving in. So, make sure to read up on state laws before making a trip. The last thing you want is a ticket or violation during your travels.

If you do find yourself in trouble, then you’ll need legal representation from the area where the citation was ordered. Imagine you were traveling through Orange County, California, and received a ticket in the city of Costa Mesa for a wreck caused by cell phone use. You would need a Costa Mesa car accident attorney to help fight the charge in court. 

Of course, it’s always better to simply know the area’s laws and abide by them. There are plenty of resources online to help you find this information, including the National Conference of State Legislatures and each state’s Department of Transportation website. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety also has information for each state.