Is Texting and Driving Illegal? – Laws & Fines (All States)

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Is texting and driving illegal? This is a question that you might have asked yourself before. If so, congratulations—you’re already on your way to making the right decision.

While we all know why texting and driving is dangerous, many people still do it. Why is that? It’s because some people don’t know that it’s actually illegal.

Most states consider texting while driving a primary offense, meaning you’ll get pulled over and issued a ticket if a cop sees you texting while driving.

On the other hand, there are a couple of states that won’t ticket you for texting while driving! So, let’s take a look at some of the different states and their texting laws.

Texting and Driving

man with phone in hand while driving contemplating whether texting and driving is illegal

 

Before we get into the legalities of it, let’s first talk about how dangerous texting and driving is.

We know that when you’re behind the wheel, you feel safe. You’ve been driving for years, and you’ve honed your skills to a point where you feel like you can do it without even thinking.

However, that’s just not true—driving is an incredibly complex task that requires your full attention at all times.

When you’re texting, your eyes are off the road, and your mind is focused on something else entirely—you’re literally not present in the moment, which means driving becomes less safe for you and anyone else on the road.

So please, when you get into your car, put your phone down until you reach your destination. Now, let’s take a look at the laws that may get you in trouble for texting while driving!

Texting & Driving Laws by State

According to statistics, 23% of all car accidents in the United States are caused by texting while driving.

For this reason, many states have enacted laws against texting while driving. However, there are some differences between state laws that may confuse drivers and law enforcement officials alike.

So let’s look at some of these states:

States With Primary Cellphone-Use Laws

In some states, using your cell phone while driving is a primary offense. A primary offense is an illegal act that an officer can stop you for committing, even without any other reason.

For instance, if you were driving intoxicated and speeding or running a red light, a police officer could pull you over for that reason alone.

So, if you were spotted by a cop in any of the following states while using your cell phone while driving, you could easily get ticketed a pricey fine:

  • Alabama – a $25 fine
  • Arkansas – you could pay up to $250 or $500
  • Colorado – a $300 fine
  • Florida – a $30 fine
  • Iowa – you’ll pay around $45
  • Oklahoma – a $100 fine
  • Texas – the fines range from $25 to $99

 

While most of these states disallow texting while driving, there are some minor exceptions. For instance, you could use it if you’re stopped at a red light in Florida, but otherwise, it’s forbidden.

States With Secondary Cellphone-Use Laws

Now, in contrast, there’s one state that considers using a cell phone while driving a secondary offense. That state is Nebraska.

A secondary offense is an act that’s not directly punishable but can be accounted for in connection with a primary violation.

For example, if you’re driving in Nebraska, you can use your phone to text without being pulled over. However, if you were pulled over for speeding while texting, or running over a red light, then you’ll be held accountable for both offenses.

You’ll be fined around $200 or more and have points added to your license.

In addition, there are two states that don’t have laws against texting while driving: Montana and Missouri.

Missouri forbids drivers under 21 from texting while driving, though. If you happen to break that law, you’ll pay around $200, and two points will be added to your driver’s license.

 

Is texting and Driving Illegal (All States)

There are many differences between the states. Check out the table and infographic for more information surrounding your state.

Red: Hands-free only | Gold: Prohibited for all drivers | Light green: Under 21 only | Dark Green: No restrictions

See more detailed information in the table below:

State Total handheld device ban applied to: Any cell phone use by the driver is prohibited if: Bus driver use restriction(s) Texting & Internet Access
Alabama 16 and under, and 17 with temporary license or if licensed under six months (primary violation)     texting prohibited (primary)
Alaska     totally prohibited  
Arizona All (primary violation)   texting prohibited  
Arkansas 18–20 years old (primary violation) under 18 (secondary violation) totally prohibited texting prohibited (primary)
California All (primary violation) under 18 (secondary violation) totally prohibited (primary) texting prohibited
Colorado   on learner’s permit or under 18 (primary violation)   totally prohibited (primary)
Connecticut All (primary violation) under 18 (primary violation) totally prohibited  
Delaware All (primary violation) on learner or intermediate license (primary violation) totally prohibited  
Florida School zones and active construction zones(primary)     Allowed only while stopped at a red light. Otherwise prohibited. (Primary)
Georgia All Drivers (primary violation) Under 18 (primary violation) Driver totally prohibited unless used for routing communication Driver totally prohibited, includes video
Guam All (primary violation)      
Hawaii All (primary violation) under 18 (primary violation) totally prohibited  
Idaho All (primary violation)      
Illinois All (primary violation) any driver under 19 (primary violation) totally prohibited  
Indiana All (primary violation)      
Iowa   on restricted or intermediate license (primary violation)   totally prohibited (primary)
Kansas   on learner or intermediate license (primary violation)    
Kentucky   under 18 (primary violation) totally prohibited  
Louisiana prohibited in school zones on learner or intermediate license (primary violation)   totally prohibited
Maine all (primary violation)      
Maryland all (primary violation) under 18 w/ restricted learner or intermediate license    
Massachusetts all (primary violation) as of February 2020     totally prohibited
Michigan all (primary violation) as of January 2022     totally prohibited
Minnesota all (primary violation) as of 08/01/2019 under 18 w/ learner or provisional license (primary violation) totally prohibited  
Mississippi     totally prohibited  
Missouri        
Montana        
Nebraska   under 18 w/ learner or intermediate license (secondary violation)    
Nevada all (primary violation)      
New Hampshire all (primary violation)   totally prohibited  
New Jersey all (primary violation) on permit or provisional license (primary violation) totally prohibited  
New Mexico Local Option by Jurisdiction on learner or provisional license (primary violation)    
New York all (primary violation)      
North Carolina   under 18 (primary violation) totally prohibited  
North Dakota   under 18 (primary violation)    
Ohio   under 18 (primary violation)    
Oklahoma learner or intermediate license holder (primary violation)   totally prohibited Texting/E-mail prohibited (primary)
Oregon all (primary violation) under 18 (primary violation)    
Pennsylvania        
Puerto Rico all (primary violation)      
Rhode Island all (primary violation) 06/01/2018 under 18 (primary violation) totally prohibited  
South Carolina     Totally prohibited, but officers must ascertain that a driver is texting rather than using the phone for another purpose.  
South Dakota   on learner or intermediate license (secondary violation)    
Tennessee All (primary violation) on learner or intermediate license (primary violation) totally prohibited texting prohibited
Texas Driving through school zones under 18 (primary violation) totally prohibited texting prohibited
Utah   under 18 (primary violation)    
Vermont all (primary violation) under 18 (primary violation)   totally prohibited (primary)
Virgin Islands all (primary violation)      
Virginia under 18 (primary violation) all (effective January 1, 2021) under 18 (secondary violation)[10] all (effective January 1, 2020) totally prohibited totally prohibited
Washington all (primary violation) on learner or intermediate license (primary violation)   Texting prohibited
Washington, D.C. all (primary violation) on learner permit (primary violation) totally prohibited totally prohibited
West Virginia all (primary violation) under 18 w/ learner or intermediate license (primary violation)    
Wisconsin Driving through construction zones on learner or intermediate license (primary violation) Texting prohibited  
Wyoming   on learner or intermediate license (primary violation)    
Source: Wikipedia

 

Texting Offenses for Minors

It’s important to know the consequences of texting and driving because it can have a lasting impact on your life—not just the lives of others.

If you’re under 18, there are some specific laws that apply to you if you’re caught texting while driving.

In fact, some states completely prohibit cell phone usage while driving for minors, like Alabama, Arizona, and New Hampshire. Plus, if you’re a novice driver, this ban applies to you too.

So, whether it’s for calling or texting, you can still be charged with a moving violation and have to pay a fine.

If you’re caught using your phone while driving, the consequences could include the following:

  • A fine of up to $200 for your first offense
  • A fine of up to $500 for subsequent offenses

 

Lots of minors are happy to try new technology and embrace it so why not try and use some stop texting and driving applications, like Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, to avoid the temptation and drive more safely?

Final Words

So, is texting and driving illegal?

In short, yes, it is. In most states, it’s considered a primary offense for which you could easily get pulled over.

Nevertheless, some states, like Montana, don’t prohibit texting and driving.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter if texting and driving is legal or not. All that matters is that you don’t do it while driving. Your life depends on your ability to drive safely every day—don’t put yourself at risk because of a text message!

Alex
Alex

I loved my car but was frustrated with my media system. So I upgraded my stereo, making silly wires and precarious phone mounts a thing of the past. The Apple Car Play stereo was so good I wanted to show more people how this could be done and truly upgrade their cars multimedia system!

Founder
StereoUpgrade.com

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