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Cellphone Laws

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Cellphone laws - June 2010
A jurisdiction-wide ban on driving while talking on a hand-held cellphone is in place in 8 states (California, Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Utah, and Washington) and the District of Columbia. Utah has named the offense careless driving. Under the Utah law, no one commits an offense when speaking on a cellphone unless they are also committing some other moving violation other than speeding.

Local jurisdictions may or may not need specific state statutory authority to ban cellphones. Localities that have enacted restrictions on cellphone use include: Oahu, HI; Chicago, IL; Brookline, MA; Detroit, MI; Santa Fe, NM; Brooklyn, North Olmstead, and Walton Hills, OH; Conshohocken, Lebanon, and West Conshohocken, PA; Waupaca County, WI; and Cheyenne, WY.

The use of all cellphones while driving a school bus is prohibited in 19 states and the District of Columbia.

The use of all cellphones by novice drivers is restricted in 27 states and the District of Columbia.

Text messaging is banned for all drivers in 28 states and the District of Columbia. In addition, novice drivers are banned from texting in 9 states (Alabama, Delaware, Indiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, and West Virginia) and school bus drivers are banned from text messaging in 2 states (Oklahoma, and Texas).

The table below shows 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.

*These laws are subject to change daily, especially with the public becoming more enlightened about the increasing danger of texting n driving. So check your own local and state laws, as well as keep up with new laws in your own state. This is what was published as of today, July 01, 2010, on iihs.org.
Texting and driving, not a good combination. Texting and driving in traffic checking messages while driving.

 
State Hand-held ban Young drivers all cellphone ban Bus drivers all cellphone ban Texting ban Enforcement
Alabama no drivers age 16 and 17-year-old drivers who have held an intermediate license for fewer than 6 months no drivers age 16 and 17-year-old drivers who have held an intermediate license for fewer than 6 months primary
Alaska no no no all drivers primary
Arizona no no school bus drivers no primary
Arkansas drivers 18 or older but younger than 21 drivers younger than 18 school bus drivers all drivers primary: texting by all drivers and cellphone use by school bus drivers; secondary: cellphone use by young drivers(1)
California all drivers drivers younger than 18 school and transit bus drivers all drivers primary; secondary for hands-free cellphone use by young drivers(1)
Colorado no drivers younger than 18 no all drivers primary
Connecticut all drivers drivers younger than 18 school bus drivers all drivers primary
Delaware no learner's permit and intermediate license holders school bus drivers learner's permit and intermediate license holders primary
District of Columbia all drivers learner's permit holders school bus drivers all drivers primary
Florida no no no no not applicable
Georgia no drivers younger than 18 school bus drivers all drivers primary
Hawaii no no no no not applicable
Idaho no no no no not applicable
Illinois drivers in construction and school speed zones drivers younger than 19 and learner's permit holders younger than 19 school bus drivers all drivers primary
Indiana no drivers younger than 18 no drivers younger than 18 primary
Iowa no learner's permit and intermediate license holders no all drivers primary for learner's permit and intermediate license holders; secondary for texting
Kansas no learner's permit and intermediate license holders no all drivers primary
Kentucky no drivers younger than 18 (effective 07/13/10) school bus drivers all drivers (effective 07/13/10) primary (effective 07/13/10)
Louisiana with respect to novice drivers, see footnote(2) with respect to novice drivers, see footnote(2) school bus drivers all drivers primary(2) (effective 08/15/10)
Maine no learner's permit and intermediate license holders no learner's permit and intermediate license holders primary
Maryland all drivers (effective 10/01/10) learner's permit and provisional license holders younger than 18 (effective 10/01/10) school bus drivers (hand-held ban) (effective 10/01/10) all drivers secondary; primary for texting
Massachusetts no no school bus drivers no primary
Michigan no no no all drivers primary
Minnesota no learner's permit holders and provisional license holders during the first 12 months after licensing school bus drivers all drivers primary
Mississippi no no no learner's permit and intermediate license holders primary
Missouri no no no drivers 21 and younger primary
Montana no no no no not applicable
Nebraska no learner's permit and intermediate license holders younger than 18 no all drivers (effective 07/14/10) secondary
Nevada no no no no not applicable
New Hampshire no no no all drivers primary
New Jersey all drivers learner's permit and intermediate license holders school bus drivers all drivers primary
New Mexico no no no no not applicable
New York all drivers no no all drivers primary; secondary for text messaging
North Carolina no drivers younger than 18 school bus drivers all drivers primary
North Dakota no no no no not applicable
Ohio no no no no not applicable
Oklahoma learner's permit and intermediate license holders (effective 11/01/10) no(3) school bus drivers and public transit drivers (effective 11/01/10) learner's permit holders, intermediate license holders, school bus drivers and public transit drivers (effective 11/01/10) primary (effective 11/01/10)
Oregon all drivers drivers younger than 18 no all drivers primary
Pennsylvania no no no no not applicable
Rhode Island no drivers younger than 18 school bus drivers all drivers primary
South Carolina no no no no not applicable
South Dakota no no no no not applicable
Tennessee no learner's permit and intermediate license holders school bus drivers all drivers primary
Texas drivers in school crossing zones intermediate license holders for the first twelve months bus drivers when a passenger 17 and younger is present bus drivers when a passenger 17 and younger is present; intermediate license holders for first twelve months; drivers in school crossing zones primary
Utah all drivers no no all drivers primary for texting; secondary for talking on a hand-held cellphone(4)
Vermont no drivers younger than 18 no all drivers primary
Virginia no drivers younger than 18 school bus drivers all drivers secondary; primary for school bus drivers
Washington all drivers learner's permit and intermediate license holders no all drivers primary
West Virginia no drivers younger than 18 who hold either a learner's permit or an intermediate license no drivers younger than 18 who hold either a learner's permit or an intermediate license primary
Wisconsin no no no all drivers (effective 12/01/10) primary (effective 12/01/10)
Wyoming no no no all drivers primary

(1)  The laws in Arkansas and California prohibit police from stopping a vehicle to determine if a driver is in compliance with the law. Clearly, that language prohibits the use of checkpoints to enforce the law, but it has been interpreted as the functional equivalent of secondary provisions that typically state the officer may not stop someone suspected of a violation unless there is other, independent, cause for a stop.

(2)  In Louisiana, all learner's permit holders, irrespective of age, and all intermediate license holders are prohibited from driving while using a hand-held cellphone and all drivers younger than 18 are prohibited from using any cellphone. Effective April 1, 2010 all drivers, irrespective of age, issued a first driverís license will be prohibited from using a cellphone for one year. The cellphone ban is secondary for novice drivers age 18 and older.

(3)  In Oklahoma, learner's permit and intermediate license holders are banned from using a hand-held electronic device while operating a motor vehicle for non-life-threatening emergency purposes.

(4)  Utah's law defines careless driving as committing a moving violation (other than speeding) while distracted by use of a hand-held cellphone or other activities not related to driving.

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