Cell Phone Use While Driving: What's the Law?

With states across the U.S. enacting laws to combat phone use while driving, avoid getting a ticket by knowing the handheld device laws. Read this guide to learn the fines for being on your phone while driving.
Written by Cheryl Knight
Reviewed by Carrie Adkins
Depending on where you live, laws regarding cell phone use while driving varies. Some states only ban drivers of a certain age from using hand held phones while driving, but other states ban everyone from doing so.
What exactly are state laws across the U.S. regarding cell phone use while driving, and what penalties are involved if you are caught violating the law? Read this guide by
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to learn more about the laws and fines for driving while using a mobile phone.
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State laws and penalties for cell phone use while driving

Each state approaches the use of handheld devices differently. While many states do allow handheld cell phone use, many have banned texting while driving. The following chart details the different state laws regarding cell phone use and the penalties you can expect for violating those laws:
State
Cell phone handheld use ban
Text messaging while driving ban
Penalties for cell phone use and texting while driving (as of October 2021)
Alabama
No
All drivers (Primary)
First offense: $25 fine; second offense: $50 fine; subsequent offenses: $75 fine
Alaska
Yes
All drivers
Class A Misdemeanor, up to $10,000 fine and one year in prison
Arizona
Yes (Primary)
All drivers
First offense: $75-$149; subsequent offenses: $150-$250
California
Yes (Primary)
All drivers
First offense: $20 base fine plus surcharge; subsequent offenses: fine of $50 plus surcharge
Colorado
No
All drivers
First offense: class 2 misdemeanor and fine of $300 and $50 for minors; subsequent offenses for minors: fine of $100
Connecticut
Yes (Primary)
All drivers
Fine of up to $125 fine
Delaware
Yes (Primary)
All drivers
First offense: $100 fine; subsequent offenses: $200-$300 fine
D.C.
Yes (Primary)
All drivers
First offense: $50 fine; subsequent offenses: $100-$200 fine
Florida
No
All drivers
First offense: $30 base fine plus surcharge; subsequent offenses: $60 fine plus surcharge
Georgia
Yes (Primary)
All drivers
$50 fine first-time offense, $100 second, $150 subsequent
Hawaii
Yes (Primary)
All drivers
$250 fine
Idaho
Yes (Primary)
All drivers
$75 fine first-time offense, $150 second, $300 subsequent, plus court costs
Illinois
Yes (Primary)
All drivers
First offense: $75; second offense: $100; subsequent offenses: $125
Indiana
Yes (Primary)
All drivers
Fine of up to $500
Iowa
No
All drivers
Fine of $30; fine of $50 for drivers under 18
Kansas
No
All drivers
Fine of $60
Kentucky
Yes (Primary)
All drivers
First offense: fine of $25; subsequent offenses: fine of $50
Lousiana
Learner or Intermediate License (regardless of age). Drivers in school zones (Primary)
All drivers
First offense: fine of $175; subsequent offenses: fine of $500
Maine
Yes (Primary)
All drivers
Fine of at least $250, and possible license suspension
Maryland
Yes (Primary)
All drivers
First offense: fine of $75; Second offense: fine of $125, subsequent offenses: fine of $175
Massachusetts
Yes (Primary)
All drivers
First offense: fine of $100; second offense: fine of $250; subsequent offenses: fine of $500
Michigan
No
All drivers
First offense: $100 fine; subsequent offenses: fine of $200
Minnesota
Yes (Primary)
All drivers
First offense: fine of $50; subsequent offenses: fine of $275, plus surcharge
Mississippi
No
All drivers
Fine of $100, $500 for learner drivers and bus drivers
Missouri
No
Drivers under 21
Fine of $200 for drivers under 21
Montana
No
No ban
No penalty
Nebraska
No
All drivers
First offense: fine of up to $200; second offense: fine of $300; subsequent offenses: fine of $500
Nevada
Yes (Primary)
All drivers
First offense: fine of $50; second offense within seven years: fine of $100; subsequent offenses within seven years: fine of $150
New Hampshire
Yes (Primary)
All drivers
First offense: fine of $100; subsequent offenses: fine of $250; subsequent offenses within twenty-four months: fine of $500
New Jersey
Yes (Primary)
All drivers
First offense: fine of up to $400; subsequent offenses: fine of up to $600
New Mexico
No
All drivers
First offense: $25 fine; subsequent offenses: $50 fine
New York
Yes (Primary)
All drivers
First offense: $50-100 fine; second offense within eighteen months: $50-$200 fine; subsequent offenses: $50-$400 fine
North Carolina
No
All drivers
Fine of $100
North Dakota
No
All drivers
$25 for drivers under eighteen
Northern Mariana Islands
Yes (Primary)
All drivers
Fines from $300-$500
Ohio
No
All drivers
First offense: $150 fine and sixty-day license suspension; penalty doubles for second offense
Oklahoma
Learner or Intermediate (Primary)
All drivers
Potentially a $100 fine
Oregon
Yes (Primary)
All drivers
First offense: fines up to $1,000; second offense: up to $2,000 fine; subsequent offenses within ten years: charged with misdemeanor, up to $2,500 in fines, and six months in jail
Pennsylvania
No
All drivers
Fine of $50, plus surcharge
Puerto Rico
Yes (Primary)
All drivers
Fine of $50
While not strictly prohibited in many states, the use of handheld devices can lead to a ticket if you are caught in states that do ban it. The tickets that result from getting caught using a handheld device in states that prohibit such use can cause your car insurance premiums to go up.

Why driving while using a mobile phone is dangerous

Regardless of the laws, driving while using your cell phone is
risky
.
Distracted driving
was responsible for 2,841 deaths in 2018, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Texting while driving is especially dangerous because reading and writing text messages involves visual, manual, and cognitive distraction.

How to prevent cell phone use while driving

If you do have a handheld device, the safest thing to do is stay off social media and refrain from cellphone use while operating your vehicle. If you spend a lot of time driving and can't always pull over or have a passenger monitor your messages and take your calls, consider investing in voice-activated, hands free device.
These will allow you to take calls or (if the device or app provides dictation) send and hear texts without taking your eyes off of the road or your hands off of your steering wheel. However, that's not a perfect solution, since you will still be distracted.
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FAQs

Can I use my phone GPS while driving?

Unless your state bans cell phone use entirely while driving, it's probably okay to check your GPS while driving.
For best safety practices, use voice controls while using your GPS.

Can you use you phone hands-free while driving?

There are no legal restrictions for using voice commands on your phone, so long as you're not looking at the screen while driving. So if your phone use is hands free and you need to ask Siri to bring you to the nearest restroom, go ahead.
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