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Cell Phone and Texting Laws – Governors Highway Safety Administration

This chart outlines state distracted driving laws. Some localities have additional regulations. Enforcement type is shown in parenthesis.

  • Handheld Cell Phone Use: 10 states, D.C., Guam and the Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using handheld cell phones while driving. Except for Maryland and West Virginia (until July 2013), all laws are primary enforcement—an officer may cite a driver for using a handheld cell phone without any other traffic offense taking place.

  • All Cell Phone Use: No state bans all cell phone use for all drivers, but many prohibit use by certain subsets: 32 states and D.C. ban all cell phone use by novice drivers. School bus drivers in 19 states and D.C. may not use a cell phone when passengers are present.
  • Text Messaging: 39 states, D.C., Guam and the Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers. All but 4 have primary enforcement. An additional 5 states prohibit text messaging by novice drivers. 3 states restrict school bus drivers from texting.
  • Some states such as Maine, N.H. and Utah treat cell phone use as part of a broader distracted driving issue. In Utah, cellphone use is an offense only if a driver also commits another moving violation (other than speeding).”

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