Cellphone and Handheld Device Laws Across the USA

boontito

Future Staff
Jan 2008
107,541
98,961
Most Insidious
#1
Inspired by a tangent that came up in another thread, thought it'd be interesting to look at the different cellphone / handheld device laws in America.

Using the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety as a source, here's some basic info:

Handheld devices are outright banned for use by the driver in:

California
Connecticut
Delaware
Illinois
Maryland
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New York
Oregon
Rhode Island
Vermont
Washington
Washington DC
West Virginia



There is a partial, usually meaning young drivers or drivers with a learner's permit, in:
Arkansas
Louisiana
Oklahoma
Tennessee
Texas
Virginia
Wisconsin

All other states are listed as having no ban on the use of a cellphone or handheld device by the driver of a vehicle.

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Using the same source, texting by the driver of a vehicle is banned in 47* of the 50 states, plus Washington DC.

*Texting while driving is banned only for novice drivers in Missouri.

*Texting while driving is allowed in Arizona and Montana.

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In some states these are primary laws and in others they are secondary laws. A secondary law against cellphone use by the driver would mean that law enforcement couldn't pull you over for it, but if they pulled you over for another reason you could be cited for the cellphone use as well.
 
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boontito

Future Staff
Jan 2008
107,541
98,961
Most Insidious
#2
Here in Washington, up until last year cellphone use by the driver was a secondary offense. Last summer a new law was passed, referred to by some as the strictest in the country, and now the driver is prohibited from not only using a cellphone but even holding it while not in use. This is true even at a stop sign, traffic light, or another situation in which traffic is not moving.

When the law went into action, it was highly publicized and the Washington State Patrol did a six month long emphasis patrol where people would be pulled over but not ticketed, just informed about the new law. That ended at the end of the year though and I know people who've been cited since then.

It was controversial in the beginning, but most people are aware of it and deal with it now. I think it's a good thing.