Cellphones and texting

July 2014

Talking on a hand-held cellphone while driving is banned in 13 states (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia) and the District of Columbia.

The use of all cellphones by novice drivers is restricted in 36 states and the District of Columbia.

Text messaging is banned for all drivers in 44 states and the District of Columbia. In addition, novice drivers are banned from texting in 4 states (Mississippi, Missouri, 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. 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.