Hands Free Laws

Almost all U.S. states have laws limiting drivers’ cellphone use. Various laws in the United States regulate the use of mobile phones and other electronics by motorists. Different states take different approaches. Some laws affect only novice drivers or commercial drivers, while some laws affect all drivers. Some laws target handheld devices only, while other laws affect both handheld and handsfree devices.

The laws regulating driving (or distracted driving) may be subject to primary enforcement or secondary enforcement by state, county or local authorities All State-level cell phone use laws in the United States are of the primary enforcement type—meaning an officer may cite a driver for using a hand-held cell phone without any other traffic offense having taken place—except in some cases involving newer (or “novice”), drivers. In the case of secondary enforcement, a police officer may only stop or cite a driver for a cell phone use violation if the driver has committed another primary violation (such as speeding, failure to stop, etc.) at the same time.

Texting and Driving Fines by State

Maximum Fines for First-Time Offenders

Mobility Hands Free Law

No state bans all cell phone use for all drivers. However, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia (plus Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands) prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. Thirty-six states and Washington, D.C. ban all cell phone use by newer drivers, while 19 states and Washington, D.C. prohibit any cell phone use by school bus drivers if children are present.

Distracted Driving Law by State

Updated September 2019

Hand-Held Ban?

No

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

No

Novice Drivers

16, or 17 with Intermediate License for less than 6 months. Primary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

No

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

No

Novice Drivers

No

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law. (Warning period in effect through 01/01/2021)

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Novice Drivers

Yes, for instruction and intermediate permit holders under 18. Secondary Law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

Drivers 18-20 years old. Primary law.

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Secondary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

*Note: Arkansas also bans the use of hand-held cell phones while driving in a school zone or in a highway construction zone. This law is secondarily enforced.

Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Secondary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

No

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

No

Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Primary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Primary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Novice Drivers

Drivers with learner or intermediate licence. Primary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Novice Drivers

Drivers with learner’s permit. Primary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

School and work zones only. Primary law. (eff. 10/1/19)

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

No

Novice Drivers

No

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law. (eff. 10/1/19)

Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary Law.

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Primary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

No

Novice Drivers

No

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

No

Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Primary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

No

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

No

Novice Drivers

No

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Novice Drivers

Drivers under 19. Primary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

No

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

No

Novice Drivers

Drivers under 21. Primary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

No

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

No

Novice Drivers

Drivers with restricted or intermediate license. Primary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

No

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

No

Novice Drivers

Drivers with learner or intermediate license. Primary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

No

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Primary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

Drivers with learner or intermediate license, regardless of age.

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Novice Drivers

Drivers within first year of licensure. Primary law for drivers under 18.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

No

Novice Drivers

Drivers with learner or intermediate license. Primary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

No

Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Primary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

No

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Primary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

No

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Novice Drivers

Drivers with Level 1 or Level 2 license. Primary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law. (eff. 8/1/2019)

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18 with learner or provisional licenses. Primary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

No

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Novice Drivers

No

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

No

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

No

Novice Drivers

No

Text Messaging Ban?

For drivers 21 and under. Primary law.

No bans on hand-held use, cell phone use, or text messaging for any drivers.

Hand-Held Ban?

No

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

Yes

Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18 with learner or intermediate license. Secondary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Secondary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

No

Novice Drivers

No

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

No

Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Primary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

No

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

No

Novice Drivers

Drivers with learner or intermediate license. Primary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

In State vehicles.

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

No

Novice Drivers

Drivers with learner or provisional license. Primary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

No

Novice Drivers

No

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

No

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Primary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

No

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

No

Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Primary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

No

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

No

Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Primary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

Drivers with learner or intermediate license. Primary law.

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

No

Novice Drivers

No

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

No

Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Primary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

No

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

No

Novice Drivers

No

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

No

Novice Drivers

No

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Primary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

No

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

No

Novice Drivers

No

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

No

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

No

Novice Drivers

Drivers with learner or intermediate license. Secondary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Secondary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Novice Drivers

Drivers with learner or intermediate license. Primary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers, while vehicle is in motion. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

No

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

Yes, when passengers are 17 and under. Primary law.

Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Primary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

*Note: Texas has banned the use of hand-held phones in school zones.

Hand-Held Ban?

No

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Primary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

No

Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Primary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

No

Novice Drivers

No

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

No

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

Yes. Primary law.

Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18. Secondary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

No

Novice Drivers

Drivers with learner or intermediate license. Primary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

Yes. Primary law.

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

No

Novice Drivers

Drivers under 18 with learner or intermediate license. Primary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

No, except in work zones.

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

No

Novice Drivers

Drivers with learner or intermediate license. Primary law.

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

Hand-Held Ban?

No

All Cell Phone Ban?

School Bus Drivers

No

Novice Drivers

No

Text Messaging Ban?

All drivers. Primary law.

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