State Law: Cell Phones and Driving
Handheld Cell Phone Bans for All Drivers: 5 states (California, Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Washington), the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from talking on handheld cell phones while driving.
All Cell Phone Bans: No state completely bans all types of cell phone use (handheld and hands-free) for all drivers, but many prohibit cell phone use by certain segments of the population.
- With the exception of Washington State, these laws are all primary enforcement—an officer may ticket a driver for using a handheld cell phone while driving without any other traffic offense taking place.
Text Messaging: 14 states and the District of Columbia now ban text messaging for all drivers.
- Novice Drivers: 21 states and the District of Columbia ban all cell use by novice drivers.
- School Bus Drivers: In 17 states and the District of Columbia, school bus drivers are prohibited from all cell phone use when passengers are present.
Preemption Laws: 8 states have laws that prohibit local jurisdictions from enacting restrictions. In 6 other states, localities are allowed to ban cell phone use.
Some states, such as Utah and New Hampshire, treat cell phone use as a larger distracted driving issue.
- Novice Drivers: 10 states prohibit text messaging by novice drivers.
- School Bus Drivers: 2 states legally restrict school bus drivers from texting while driving.
- Utah considers speaking on a cellphone to be an offense only if a driver is also committing some other moving violation (other than speeding).
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