Cell Phone and Texting Laws

The Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit representing the state and territorial highway safety offices that implement programs to address behavioral highway safety issues. The GHSA has recently published State Cell Phone Use and Texting While Driving Laws.


The chart [available at the above link] outlines all state cell phone and text messaging laws. Some local jurisdictions may have additional regulations. Enforcement type is shown in parenthesis.

  • Handheld Cell Phones: 9 states, D.C. and the Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving. Except for Maryland, all laws are primary enforcement—an officer may cite a driver for using a handheld cell phone without any other traffic offense taking place.
  • All Cell Phone Use: No state bans all cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for all drivers, but many prohibit all cell phone use by certain drivers:
    • Novice Drivers: 30 states and D.C. ban all cell phone use by novice drivers.
    • School Bus Drivers: Bus drivers in 19 states and D.C. may not use a cell phone when passengers are present.
  • Text Messaging: 34 states, D.C. and Guam ban text messaging for all drivers. 31 states, D.C., and Guam have primary enforcement; the others, secondary.
    • Novice Drivers: An additional 7 states prohibit text messaging by novice drivers.
    • School Bus Drivers: 3 states restrict school bus drivers from texting while driving.
  • Some states such as Maine, N.H. and Utah treat cell phone use and texting as part of a larger distracted driving issue. In Utah, cellphone use is an offense only if a driver is also committing some other moving violation (other than speeding).

Click here to view the chart.


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