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State Laws on Distracted Driving - Ban on Hand-Held Devices and Texting While Driving

As of October 2021

Embedded Dataset Excel:

Dataset Excel:

table_02_25_082223.xlsx (12.43 KB)


A primary law means that an officer can ticket the driver for the offense without any other traffic violation taking place. A secondary law means an officer can only issue a ticket if a driver has been pulled over for another violation (like speeding). 

Hand-held Cell Phone Use: 24 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands prohibit all drivers from using hand-held cell phones while driving. All are primary enforcement laws—an officer may cite a driver for using a hand-held cell phone without any other traffic offense taking place.

Text Messaging: Washington was the first state to pass a texting ban in 2007. Currently, 48 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands ban text messaging for all drivers. All but 2 have primary enforcement. Of the 2 state without an all driver texting ban, 1 prohibits text messaging by novice drivers.


KEY: Y = Yes.


Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Distracted Driving, Cellphone use laws by state, available at as of Aug. 4, 2023.