What the Cell? Phone-Use Laws for Drivers by State

What the Cell? Phone-Use Laws for Drivers by State

Whether it was a TV public service announcement or a billboard on the interstate, you've almost certainly been warned of the dangers of texting while driving. The messaging is so clear and so ubiquitous, you'd think sending a text while behind the wheel was a capital crime. But did you know that it's not even illegal in every state?

It turns out that cellphone-use-while-driving laws vary depending on the state that you're in. If you're on a road trip across state lines, troopers might be able to pull you over for something that may be perfectly legal in your home state. You should also be aware of how distracted the other drivers around you might be.
 
Here are the different types of laws governing cellphone use while driving in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, according to bipartisan coalition the National Conference of State Legislatures:

Handheld Phone Ban (16 States)

  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • West Virginia

Text-Messaging Ban (47 States)

  • Alabama
  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Idaho
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Iowa
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Maine
  • Maryland
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Mississippi
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • New York
  • North Carolina
  • North Dakota
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

No Texting Ban (3 States)

  • Arizona
  • Missouri (for age 21 or older)
  • Montana

As you can see, three states still allow texting while driving: Arizona and Montana permit it for all drivers, while Missouri allows it for drivers age 21 or older.

A much less widespread ban is on handheld cellphone use while driving. Sixteen states, along with Washington, D.C.; Puerto Rico; Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands have all banned the use of phones without a hands-free device. Other states have more-limited bans on handheld use: In Arkansas, it's banned in school and highway work zones; Massachusetts leaves the decision to be made at the local level.

If you're a teenage driver, it's much more likely that being on your phone in any capacity is illegal. Thirty-eight states and Washington, D.C., ban all cellphone use by teen or novice drivers.

Some of the laws also aren't as simple as "you can" or "you can't." In Utah, for example, talking on a cellphone without a hands-free device is only illegal if a driver is committing another moving violation other than speeding.

It's important to note that while phone-use laws vary by state, they can also vary by city. In Texas alone, more than 90 cities have adopted cellphone ordinances above and beyond the Texas statewide bans on texting for all drivers and cellphone use for bus drivers and drivers under 18 years old. So, just because it might be legal for you to call someone in one town might not necessarily mean that's the case in the next town over.

While no state bans all cellphone use for all drivers, at , we believe you should never use your phone while operating a vehicle. If you make the choice to do so, be aware of the laws in your city and state, be aware when you cross into unfamiliar territory, and always make the safest possible decisions while driving.

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Source:Cars.com

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