Cell Phone Restrictions in the USA

cell phone usage in the USA

No state bans all cell phone use for all drivers. However, New York, ​California, Hawaii, ​Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, Connecticut, ​Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, New Mexico, ​Vermont, Rhode Island, ​Washington, and West Virginia prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving.

Distracted driving laws explained

Did you know that the laws regulating driving may be subject to primary enforcement or secondary enforcement by state or local authorities? Primary enforcement means an enforcer 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. While in the case of secondary enforcement, a law enforcer may only stop or cite a driver for a cell phone use violation if the driver has committed another primary violation such as speeding or failure to stop.

In an article issued by the Governors Highway Safety Association on Distracted Driving​, the details on cell phone laws ​are explained below.

  • Hand-held Cell Phone Use: 16 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands restrict all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. All are primary enforcement laws where an officer may cite a driver for using a hand-held cell phone without any other traffic offense taking place.
  • All Cell Phone Use: No state bans all cell phone use for all drivers, but 38 states and D.C. ban all cell phone use by newer drivers, and 20 states and D.C. restrict any cell phone use by school bus drivers if children are present.​
  • Text Messaging: Currently, 47 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers. Note that all but four have primary enforcement. Of the three states without an all driver texting ban, two prohibit text messaging by novice drivers.

​For other driving tips, click here​​​​​.

Important:

Cell Phone Safe Regulations

Understanding there are various laws that regulate the use of mobile phones and other electronics by motorists in the USA are essential. Know that some laws can affect only novice drivers, while others can affect all drivers. There are also laws that may target hand-held devices only, while other laws may affect both hand-held and hands-free devices.​