Cellphones and texting

September 2017

Talking on a hand-held cellphone while driving is banned in 15 states and the District of Columbia.

The use of all cellphones by novice drivers is restricted in 38 states and the District of Columbia.

Text messaging is banned for all drivers in 47 states and the District of Columbia. In addition, novice drivers are banned from texting in one state (Missouri).

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. In addition, most school bus drivers are banned from texting and using hand-held cellphones by state code, regulation or school district policy.

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.

Hover over map for more detail.

1In California, persons are prohibited from driving a motor vehicle while holding and operating a phone or electronic communication device. Drivers who are 18 and older may dictate, send or listen to text-based messages if they're using voice-activated, hands-free devices.

2In Oregon, drivers may not hold a personal electronic device in either hand or both hands while operating a motor vehicle on a public highway, including while temporarily stationary because of traffic, a traffic control device, or other momentary delays, effective October 1, 2017.

3In Washington, drivers may not hold a personal electronic device in either hand or both hands while operating a motor vehicle on a public highway, including while temporarily stationary because of traffic, a traffic control device, or other momentary delays, effective July 23, 2017.