Which States Allow Texting While Driving?

It’s ancient history now, but decades ago it took some time for all fifty states to adopt laws requiring seat belts and outlawing drinking and driving. Right now, states are in the process of addressing a similar issue: using cellphones while driving.

Nevada and Pennsylvania are the two states to recently pass laws restricting cellphone usage while behind the wheel. Even so, there are still 15 states that do not have laws on the books that specifically prohibit texting while driving.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety keeps track of cellphone-related laws for each state so that auto insurance companies can adjust their policy premiums accordingly. Here is a chart showing which states have enacted bans on texting and cellphone use while driving:

STATE

Illegal to text while driving?

Illegal to use cell while driving?

Alabama No No
Alaska Yes No
Arizona No No
Arkansas Yes Yes (under 21)
California Yes Yes
Colorado Yes No
Connecticut Yes Yes
Delaware Yes Yes
D.C. Yes Yes
Florida No No
Georgia Yes No
Hawaii No No
Idaho No No
Illinois Yes In school/construction zones
Indiana Yes No
Iowa Yes No
Kansas Yes No
Kentucky Yes No
Louisiana Yes For probationary drivers
Maine Yes No
Maryland Yes Yes
Massachusetts Yes No
Michigan Yes No
Minnesota Yes No
Mississippi No No
Missouri No No
Montana No No
Nebraska Yes No
Nevada Yes (as of 1/12/12) Yes (as of 1/12/12)
New Hampshire Yes No
New Jersey Yes Yes
New Mexico No For in-state vehicles
New York Yes Yes
North Carolina Yes No
North Dakota Yes No
Ohio No No
Oklahoma No For probationary drivers
Oregon Yes Yes
Pennsylvania Yes (as of 3/12) No
Rhode Island Yes No
South Carolina No No
South Dakota No No
Tennessee Yes No
Texas In school zones In school zones
Utah Yes No
Vermont Yes No
Virginia Yes No
Washington Yes Yes
West Virginia No No
Wisconsin Yes No
Wyoming Yes No

In addition, several states that don’t have total bans on their books have addressed distracted driving in some other way. For example, cellphone use while driving is covered under a comprehensive distracted driving law in New Hampshire and a separate distracted driving category in Utah. All of the counties in Hawaii have implemented distracted driving ordinances. And police in Idaho and South Carolina can list distracted driving as a contributing factor when issuing a citation.

It is also important to note that no state has completely outlawed all cellphone usage while driving (most make exceptions for “hands-free” devices). Lawmakers also want to encourage motorists to use their cellphones in cases of emergency, even if people are driving while doing so. Therefore, it appears that an all-out ban on cellphone use while driving doesn’t appear to be on the horizon. However, history shows that the vast majority of states will be in agreement on this issue in a decade or two.

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