Map Of State Texting Bans
Talking on a hand-held cellphone while driving is banned in 9 states (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Utah, and Washington) and the District of Columbia. Utah has named the offense careless driving. Under the Utah law, no one commits an offense when speaking on a cellphone unless they are also committing some other moving violation other than speeding.
The use of all cellphones by novice drivers is restricted in 30 states and the District of Columbia and the use of all cellphones while driving a school bus is prohibited in 19 states and the District of Columbia.
Text messaging is banned for all drivers in 33 states and the District of Columbia. In addition, novice drivers are banned from texting in 7 states (Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia) and school bus drivers are banned from text messaging in 3 states (Mississippi, Oklahoma, and Texas).
Many localities have enacted their own bans on cellphones or text messaging. In some but not all states, local jurisdictions need specific statutory authority to do so.
The table and maps below show the states that have cellphone laws, whether they specifically ban text messaging, and whether they are enforced as primary or secondary laws. Under secondary laws, an officer must have some other reason to stop a vehicle before citing a driver for using a cellphone. Laws without this restriction are called primary.
Map of texting bans
Laws Restricting Cell Phone Use and Texting By State
|State||Hand-held ban||Young drivers all cellphone ban||Bus drivers all cellphone ban||Texting ban||Enforcement|
|Alabama||no||drivers age 16 and 17-year-old drivers who have held an intermediate license for fewer than 6 months||no||drivers age 16 and 17-year-old drivers who have held an intermediate license for fewer than 6 months||primary|
|Arizona||no||no||school bus drivers||no||primary|
|Arkansas||drivers 18 or older but younger than 21 (effective since 10/01/09) school and highway work zones (effective 10/01/11)||drivers younger than 18||school bus drivers||all drivers||primary: texting by all drivers and cellphone use by school bus drivers; secondary: cellphone use by young drivers, drivers in school and work zones1|
|California||all drivers||drivers younger than 18||school and transit bus drivers||all drivers||primary: hand held and texting laws; secondary: hands-free cellphone use by young drivers1|
|Colorado||no||drivers younger than 18||no||all drivers||primary|
|Connecticut||all drivers||drivers younger than 18||school bus drivers||all drivers||primary|
|Delaware||all drivers||learner's permit and intermediate license holders||school bus drivers||all drivers||primary|
|District of Columbia||all drivers||learner's permit holders||school bus drivers||all drivers||primary|
|Georgia||no||drivers younger than 18||school bus drivers||all drivers||primary|
|Illinois||drivers in construction and school speed zones||drivers younger than 19 and learner's permit holders younger than 19||school bus drivers||all drivers||primary|
|Indiana||no||drivers younger than 18||no||all drivers (effective 07/01/11)||primary|
|Iowa||no||learner's permit and intermediate license holders||no||all drivers||primary for learner's permit and intermediate license holders; secondary for texting|
|Kansas||no||learner's permit and intermediate license holders||no||all drivers||primary|
|Kentucky||no||drivers younger than 18||school bus drivers||all drivers||primary|
|Louisiana||with respect to novice drivers, see footnote2||all novice drivers, see footnote for detail2||school bus drivers||all drivers||primary2|
|Maine||no||learner's permit and intermediate license holders||no||all drivers (effective 09/13/11)||primary|
|Maryland||all drivers||learner's permit and provisional license holders younger than 18||school bus drivers (hand-held ban)||all drivers||secondary; primary for texting|
|Massachusetts||no||drivers younger than 18||school bus drivers and passenger bus drivers||all drivers||primary|
|Minnesota||no||learner's permit holders and provisional license holders during the first 12 months after licensing||school bus drivers||all drivers||primary|
|Mississippi||no||no||school bus drivers (effective 07/01/11)||learner's permit and intermediate license holders (effective since 07/01/09) and school bus drivers (effective 07/01/11)||primary|
|Missouri||no||no||no||drivers 21 and younger||primary|
|Nebraska||no||learner's permit and intermediate license holders younger than 18||no||all drivers||secondary|
|New Hampshire||no||no||no||all drivers||primary|
|New Jersey||all drivers||learner's permit and intermediate license holders||school bus drivers||all drivers||primary|
|New Mexico||no||learner's permit and intermediate license holders (effective 06/17/11)||no||learner's permit and intermediate license holders (effective 06/17/11)||primary (effective 06/17/11)|
|New York||all drivers||no||no||all drivers||primary; secondary for text messaging|
|North Carolina||no||drivers younger than 18||school bus drivers||all drivers||primary|
|North Dakota||no||drivers younger than 18 (effective 01/01/12)||no||all drivers (effective 08/01/11)||primary (effective 08/01/11)|
|Oklahoma||learner's permit and intermediate license holders||no3||no||learner's permit holders, intermediate license holders, school bus drivers and public transit drivers||primary|
|Oregon||all drivers||drivers younger than 18||no||all drivers||primary|
|Rhode Island||no||drivers younger than 18||school bus drivers||all drivers||primary|
|South Carolina||no||no||no||no||not applicable|
|South Dakota||no||no||no||no||not applicable|
|Tennessee||no||learner's permit and intermediate license holders||school bus drivers||all drivers||primary|
|Texas||drivers in school crossing zones||intermediate license holders for the first twelve months||bus drivers when a passenger 17 and younger is present||bus drivers when a passenger 17 and younger is present; intermediate license holders for first twelve months; drivers in school crossing zones||primary|
|Utah||all drivers||no||no||all drivers||primary for texting; secondary for talking on a hand-held cellphone4|
|Vermont||no||drivers younger than 18||no||all drivers||primary|
|Virginia||no||drivers younger than 18||school bus drivers||all drivers||secondary; primary for school bus drivers|
|Washington||all drivers||learner's permit and intermediate license holders||no||all drivers||primary|
|West Virginia||no||drivers younger than 18 who hold either a learner's permit or an intermediate license||no||drivers younger than 18 who hold either a learner's permit or an intermediate license||primary|
1The laws in Arkansas and California prohibit police from stopping a vehicle to determine if a driver is in compliance with the law. Clearly, that language prohibits the use of checkpoints to enforce the law, but it has been interpreted as the functional equivalent of secondary provisions that typically state the officer may not stop someone suspected of a violation unless there is other, independent, cause for a stop.
2In Louisiana, all learner's permit holders, irrespective of age, and all intermediate license holders are prohibited from driving while using a hand-held cellphone and all drivers younger than 18 are prohibited from using any cellphone. Effective April 1, 2010 all drivers, irrespective of age, issued a first driver’s license will be prohibited from using a cellphone for one year. The cellphone ban is secondary for novice drivers age 18 and older.