In the U.S., distracted driving kills an estimated 9 people and injures another 1,000 every day. Whether it’s sending a text, changing music, or talking on your cell phone, distracted driving poses a serious danger to drivers and passengers alike. But despite the clear risks, not every state has the same distracted-driving laws. Learn what the laws are in your neck of the woods.

States and territories where handheld cell phone use is prohibited

Recent studies have shown that despite knowing the risks, many drivers continue to use their cell phones while driving. In the following states and territories, using a handheld cell phone while driving is strictly prohibited and punishable by citation:

  • Arkansas (if you’re between the ages of 18 and 20)
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Delaware
  • Guam
  • Hawaii
  • Illinois
  • Louisiana (for learners or those with intermediate licenses)
  • Maryland
  • Nevada
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico (for in-state vehicles only)
  • New York
  • Oklahoma (for learners or those with intermediate licenses)
  • Oregon
  • Puerto Rico
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
  • Virgin Islands
  • Washington, DC
  • Washington
  • West Virginia

States that ban all cell phone use for novice drivers

As of 2017, no states are doing a complete ban of cell phone use while driving, but these states do completely ban them for novice drivers: 

  • Alabama (for drivers who are 16, 17, and/or have had their license for less than 6 months)
  • Arkansas (for drivers under 18)
  • California (for drivers under 18)
  • Connecticut (for drivers under 18)
  • Colorado (for drivers under 18)
  • Delaware (for drivers with a learners or intermediate license)
  • DC (for drivers with a learners permit)
  • Georgia (for drivers under 18)
  • Hawaii (for drivers under 18)
  • Illinois (for drivers under 19)
  • Indiana (for drivers under 21)
  • Iowa (for drivers with a restricted or intermediate license)
  • Kansas (for drivers with a learner or intermediate license)
  • Kentucky (for drivers under 18)
  • Louisiana (for drivers in their first year of being licensed)
  • Maine (for drivers with a learner or intermediate license)
  • Maryland (for drivers under 18)
  • Massachusetts (for drivers under 18)
  • Michigan (for drivers with a level 1 or 2 license)
  • Minnesota (for drivers under 18 with a learner or provisional license)
  • Nebraska (for drivers under 18 with a learner or intermediate license)
  • New Hampshire (for drivers under 18)
  • New Jersey (for drivers with a permit or provisional license)
  • New Mexico (for drivers with a learner or provisional license)
  • North Carolina (for drivers under 18)
  • North Dakota (for drivers under 18)
  • Ohio (for drivers under 18)
  • Oregon (for drivers under 18)
  • Rhode Island (for drivers under 18)
  • South Dakota (for drivers with a learner or intermediate license)
  • Tennessee (for drivers with a learner or intermediate license)
  • Texas (for drivers under 18)
  • Utah (for drivers under 18)
  • Vermont (for drivers under 18)
  • Virginia (for drivers under 18)
  • Washington (for drivers with a learner or intermediate license)
  • West Virginia (for drivers under 18 with a learner or intermediate license)
  • Wisconsin (for drivers with a learner or intermediate license)
Check out:  When Should Seniors Stop Driving?

States that have a texting ban for drivers

Sending or reading a text can take your eyes off the road for 5 seconds, which for some can mean the difference between life and death. Beginning with the state of Washington in 2007, all but 3 of the 50 states (plus DC, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) have totally banned texting while driving. States that don’t yet have a total texting ban are:

  • Arizona (they do ban texting for drivers under 18)
  • Missouri (they ban texting for drivers under 21)
  • Montana

Getting familiar with the distracted driving laws in your area is only half the battle. Commit to do everything in your power to fight distracted driving and help make our roads safer.

Safe and smart | Car safety

about Rebecca

Rebecca is a freelance copywriter and editor living in the SF Bay Area with her husband and two kids. She enjoys productively channeling her anxiety into safety-minded articles for home and garden, running with her robot trainer, and advocating on behalf of the Oxford comma.