Everything You Need to Know About Hawaii’s Texting and Driving Laws

Under Hawaii’s texting and driving law, texting while driving is a primary offense and carries a minimum $250 fine.
Written by Jason Tushinski
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Updated on Jan 09, 2023
In Hawaii, distracted driving is considered a primary offense and carries a fine of $250—that fine increases to $300 in a school or construction zone. 
Every year in Hawaii, there are roughly 10,000 car accidents, most of which are the direct result of distracted driving. In 2018, Hawaii law enforcement issued more than 14,000 citations for distracted driving alone. It is easy to be distracted when behind the wheel, and handheld devices make this even easier (and thus, more dangerous).
To cut down on distracted driving-related accidents, Hawaii—like most other states—has a strict ban on texting and driving. The
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What are the texting and driving laws in Hawaii?

In Hawaii, texting and driving is considered a primary offense—this means that if a police officer sees you violating a law (in this case, the texting and driving law), they can pull you over and issue you a citation. 
As well, texting and driving is banned in school and construction zones in Hawaii.
Using a handheld cell phone is prohibited for all drivers, but hands-free is allowed. Texting while driving is prohibited. All drivers under the age of 18 are prohibited from using a mobile device while driving, including hands-free.
Texting and driving is considered dangerous because it combines three types of
distracted driving
as recognized by the state:
  • Visual distractions take your eyes off of the roadway
  • Cognitive distractions take your mind off of the road
  • Manual distractions take your hands off of the steering wheel

What are the penalties for texting and driving in Hawaii?

In Hawaii, you will pay a fine of $250 if you're caught texting and driving. If you’re caught texting and driving in a school or construction zone, the fine is $300.
Hawaii does not have a point system, so no points will be added to your driving record if you are cited for texting and driving.
Type of violation
Points on license
Using a handheld device while driving
$250 (plus court costs and fees)
Using a handheld device while driving in school or construction zone
$300 (plus court costs and fees)
Depending on the circumstances, a texting and driving violation can lead to reckless driving charges. If the violation results in the serious injury or death of another person, you may be charged with negligent homicide.
For a commercial driver, the penalty for texting and driving is even steeper—a fine of up to $2,750 is possible, as is the suspension of driving privileges.
Hawaii’s distracted driving law also prohibits checking your phone at a red light or stop sign. According to federal data,
of collisions occur at intersections, so leave the phone alone until you’ve safely reached your destination.

Are there exceptions to Hawaii’s texting and driving law? 

The use of a handheld cell phone is allowed by all drivers in order to call 911, and this includes drivers under 18. Calling for emergency assistance is the only time a driver under 18 can use a mobile phone while driving a vehicle.
The following drivers are exempt from Hawaii’s distracted driving laws:
  • Emergency responders using a cell phone as part of their job (police, paramedics, firefighters, state and federal law enforcement, etc)
  • Drivers operating fleet vehicles or with a commercial driver’s license (within meaning of Title 47 Part 90 of the Code of Federal Regulations) as part of their duties

Are there special rules about texting and driving for young drivers?

Yes—drivers under the age of 18 are not allowed to use cell phones while driving at all, including hands-free mode. The only time a driver under the age of 18 can use a cell phone in a vehicle is to call 911 in an emergency.
Key Takeaway: Drivers over the age of 18 in Hawaii can use hands-free mode with their cell phones, but younger drivers cannot. Texting is forbidden for all Hawaii drivers.

Can texting and driving raise my insurance premium?

Yes, a citation for texting and driving can increase your overall insurance premium in Hawaii. In fact, the average driver with a distracted driving violation on their record saw their premium increase by 19%, or $290 in Hawaii.
As a rule, it is always a good idea to leave your phone alone while driving. Hands-free mode is only allowed for drivers over 18. Not touching your phone while driving keeps you, your passengers, and other drivers safe, not to mention that it also keeps your insurance premium low.

How to save money on car insurance in Hawaii

A citation for texting and driving can bump up your insurance premium by nearly 20%! If your premium is already high, a 20% markup can strain your finances. But with some help from the internet’s top insurance app, affordable
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