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

As of July 2020

Dataset Excel: 

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.

a Virginia's ban on hand-held devices for all drivers goes into effect January 1, 2021.


Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Distracted Driving, Cellphone use laws by state, available at as of Jul. 1, 2020.