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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
Alaska no no no all drivers 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
Florida no no no no not applicable
Georgia no drivers younger than 18 school bus drivers all drivers primary
Hawaii no no no no not applicable
Idaho no no no no not applicable
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
Michigan no no no 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
Montana no no no no not applicable
Nebraska no learner's permit and intermediate license holders younger than 18 no all drivers secondary
Nevada no no no no not applicable
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)
Ohio no no no no not applicable
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
Pennsylvania no no no no not applicable
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
Wisconsin no no no all drivers primary
Wyoming no no no all drivers 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.

3In Oklahoma, learner's permit and intermediate license holders are banned from using a hand-held electronic device while operating a motor vehicle for non-life-threatening emergency purposes.

4Utah's law defines careless driving as committing a moving violation (other than speeding) while distracted by use of a hand-held cellphone or other activities not related to driving.