Distracted Driving Laws by State

Distracted driving is a growing concern nationwide. Almost every state has a ban against texting and driving, and many states have gone beyond that, making handheld devices illegal while operating a motor vehicle. Because vehicle laws are legislated state-by-state, we’ve compiled a list of distracted driving laws for all 50 states.

Alabama

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: Drivers with their provisional license who are under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

State legislators have introduced “Cici’s Law” to ban handheld devices while driving. The bill was named in honor of an Alabama resident who passed away in March 2018 after being struck by a distracted driver.

Alaska

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: No
Text Message ban: Yes

Lawmakers are attempting to pass legislation making the use of a handheld device in a school zone punishable by a $500 fine.

Arizona

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: For school bus drivers and provisional permit holders
Text Message ban: Yes

Arizona passed legislation banning handheld devices after Governor Ducey signed the bill earlier this week. There will be a temporary warning period in place until the law goes into full effect on January 1, 2021.

Arkansas

Handheld ban: Drivers under the age of 21
Cell phone ban: For school bus drivers and drivers under age 18
Text Message ban: Yes

It is illegal in Arkansas to be on a handheld device while driving in a school zone.

California

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers and drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

The National Transportation Safety Board is urging California to be the first state to outlaw any cell phone usage, including hands-free, while behind the wheel.

Colorado

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: Drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

A 2019 bill to ban handheld devices was postponed indefinitely in committee. The bill’s sponsor—Senate President pro tem Lois Court—says she has not given up on the bill and will reintroduce legislation in the next congressional session.

Connecticut

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers and drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

Delaware

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers and drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

Florida

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: No
Text Message ban: Secondary

Currently, police can only cite a driver for texting while driving as a secondary offense, meaning someone can only be ticketed if they are pulled over for another offense. There are currently two bills making their way through the Florida legislature that would make texting-while-driving a primary offense.

Georgia

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers and drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has found early evidence to suggest that Georgia’s handheld ban, passed in July of 2018, is seeing positive results.

Hawaii

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: Drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

Idaho

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: No
Text Message ban: Yes

Legislation to outlaw handheld devices was voted down in the Idaho Senate in February. Those opposed to the bill cited concerns over farmers and rural drivers who may not have Bluetooth capabilities.

Illinois

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers and drivers under 19
Text Message ban: Yes

A law passed in August 2018 and set to take place in July 2019 will make cell phone usage behind the wheel punishable by both a fine and a moving violation. This means that a citation could lead to license suspension if a driver is caught too many times.

Indiana

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers and drivers under 21
Text Message ban: Yes

A bill aiming to make handheld device usage punishable as a Class C infraction, the same category as a DUI, was rejected in committee in February.

Iowa

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: Drivers with provisional licenses
Text Message ban: Yes

Iowa has introduced a bill to punish cell phone usage without a hands-free device. The law is expected to be voted on during the 2019 legislative session.

Kansas

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: Drivers with a learner or intermediary license
Text Message ban: Yes

Kentucky

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers and drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

Louisiana

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers, drivers under 18 and those within the first years of receiving a Louisiana license
Text Message ban: Yes

While the state of Louisiana is currently taking up legislation to reduce car insurance costs, distracted driving laws are not part of the omnibus bill currently making its way through the Senate.

Maine

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: Drivers with a learner permit
Text Message ban: Yes

There are currently two laws up for debate in the Maine State House. One bans cell phones without a handheld device. The other prohibits secondary—video or GPS—devices.

Maryland

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: Drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

Massachusetts

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: Drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

Speaker Robert A. Deleo confirmed in mid-April that the Massachusetts State House plans to vote on a handheld device ban during the 2019 session.

Michigan

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: Bus drivers and drivers with level one or two license
Text Message ban: Yes

There are currently three bills making their way through the Michigan State House that ban handheld devices while driving. The bills differ in the level of enforcement and penalties.

Minnesota

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers and drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

Minnesota’s handheld device ban goes into effect on August 1, 2019.

Mississippi

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers
Text Message ban: Yes

Mississippi currently allows the use of handheld devices with no planned legislation to ban cell phones in the works. The state has the highest incidences of texting-while-driving and is the deadliest state to drive with a casualty rate of 22.9 deaths per 100,000 residents.

Missouri

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: No
Text Message ban: Drivers 21 and under

Missouri and Montana are the only two states that currently allow anyone over the age of 21 to text while driving.

Montana

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: No
Text Message ban: No

Montana is the only state in the U.S. that has no laws to address the use of cell phones while driving for any state residents.

Nebraska

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers and drivers 18 and under
Text Message ban: Secondary law

Under current Nebraska law, a driver can only be cited for texting and driving as a secondary offense, meaning someone cannot be pulled over for the act of using their phone behind the wheel.

Nevada

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: No
Text Message ban: Yes

Nevada lawmakers have introduced legislation to allow police to use a controversial technology called the “textalyzer” when dealing with a possible distracted driving case.

New Hampshire

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: Drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

New Jersey

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers and drivers with provisional license or learner permit
Text Message ban: Yes

New Mexico

Handheld ban: State vehicles
Cell phone ban: Drivers with provisional license or learner permit
Text Message ban: Yes

New York

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: No
Text Message ban: Yes

North Carolina

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers and drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

Proposed legislation that bans handheld devices is currently making its way through the NC State House.

North Dakota

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: Drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

Ohio

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: Drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

While there is no handheld ban in Ohio, the state general assembly passed a law in 2018 that broadened the scope of “distracted driving” to encompass non-cell phone related incidents such as eating or changing the radio station.

Oklahoma

Handheld ban: Drivers with learner or intermediate license
Cell phone ban: No
Text Message ban: Yes

The “Bobbi White Act” is making its way through the Oklahoma State House for the third year. The bill would make handheld devices illegal within a school or construction zone.

Oregon

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: Drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

Oregon has the highest fines for distracted driving in the country, set at $1,000 if a motorist is caught using a cellphone while driving.

Pennsylvania

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: No
Text Message ban: Yes

Lawmakers introduced a bill banning handheld devices while driving. The legislation also increases the fine for texting while driving from $50 to $200.

Rhode Island

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers and drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

South Carolina

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: No
Text Message ban: Yes

A bill is set to be introduced by lawmakers that strengthen the Palmetto State’s distracted driving laws. State Senator Tom Young considers the success Georgia has shown in reducing distracted driving incidents as a reason to pass new legislation.

South Dakota

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: Drivers with learner or intermediate license
Text Message ban: Yes

Tennessee

Handheld ban: In school zones
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers and drivers with a learner or intermediate license
Text Message ban: Yes, while vehicle is in motion

A law to ban handheld devices passed the Tennessee House of Representatives on April 17th. The bill will soon reach the Senate where it must be voted out of the Ways and Means Committee.

Texas

Handheld ban: In school zones
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers and drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

Houston and Dallas currently lead the nation in the number of distracted driving incidents.

Utah

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers and drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

Vermont

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: Drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

Virginia

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: School bus drivers and drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

A bill outlawing handheld devices while driving was voted down in the 2019 legislative session.

Washington

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: Drivers with learner or intermediate license
Text Message ban: Yes

West Virginia

Handheld ban: Yes
Cell phone ban: Drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

Wisconsin

Handheld ban: Only in work zones
Cell phone ban: Drivers under 18
Text Message ban: Yes

Wyoming

Handheld ban: No
Cell phone ban: No
Text Message ban: Yes