9 states ban cellphone use while driving. Is yours on the list?

Nine states plus the District of Colombia now ban the use of a cellphone by adults while driving. But in some states, police must have another reason to stop drivers before citing them for using a cellphone. Many more states restrict or prohibit the use of cellphones by teenagers.

Some cities have moved on the issue without the state legislatures. For example, Chicago, Detroit, and Oahu, Hawaii, have cellphone and driving bans now, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Text messaging while driving is specifically banned now in 30 states.

Where can't you use a cellphone? Check out the list and the kind of restrictions.



California Highway Patrol officer Theresa Simmons tickets a driver for using a cellphone in Santa Rosa, Calif., on Aug. 10. (Newscom)

Drivers in California can be pulled over for hand-held cellphone use.

School and transit bus drivers are banned from using any cell phone – hands-free or not.

Drivers under 18 face a $20 fine for hands-free cell phone use if it is detected during a traffic stop for another offense. A bill is pending in the California legislature that would increase the first offense fine to $50.

Texting is prohibited for all drivers.


All drivers in Connecticut can be pulled over for hand-held cellphone use and texting.

Drivers younger than 18 and school bus drivers may not use cell phones at all.


Delaware is tightening its cellphone use laws.

Starting January 2, 2011, drivers in Delaware will no longer be allowed to use hand-held cellphones or to text while driving. Hands-free cellphone use is allowed.

Learner’s permit and intermediate license holders and school bus drivers will be banned from all cellphone use.

Fines range from $50 to $200 per offense.


Effective October 1, 2010, all drivers in Maryland can be pulled over for texting, and will face punishment if they are pulled over for other traffic offenses while talking on a hand-held cellphone.

What about teens?

Learner’s permit and provisional license holders younger than 18 in the Old Line State will face punishment for using any cellphone - hands-free or hand-held - at the time of a traffic stop.

New Jersey

In New Jersey, all drivers can be pulled over for hand-held cellphone use.

Drivers of all ages in the Garden State can also be pulled over for texting or using video games (yes, video games).

Fines start at $100. But legislation is under consideration that could increase fines to as much as $600 and include the suspension of a driver's license.

Learner’s permit and probationary license holders cannot use any kind of cellphone when driving. These drivers are also prohibited from using other portable wireless electronic devices, such as iPods with hands-free accessories, according to handsfreeinfo.com.

The same goes for school bus drivers - no texting, no hands-free, and no hand-held cellphone use.

New York

New York became the first state to ban drivers from using hand-held cellphones while driving in 2001.

The Empire State ban applies to all drivers, whether they are teenagers or adults, operating any kind of vehicle.

Violations may result in a $150 fine.

Drivers may be pulled over and cited if they are seen talking on a hand-held phone while operating a car; a citation for texting can be issued only if the officer has another reason to pull over the driver.

Hands-free cellphones are OK.


In 2009, Oregon approved a law that bans all hand-held mobile phones while driving.

Adults may use hands-free cellphones. But drivers under 18 may not use any kind of communication device (no texting or calling) while driving.

Drivers may be pulled over by police if they are seen using a hand-held mobile device while driving.


Utah has a jurisdiction-wide ban on using a hand-held cellphone while driving, though drivers may use a headset or other hand-free communication device.

A driver may be pulled over for reading or writing a text message while driving, but the officer must have another reason to stop the operator for speaking on a mobile phone.

The offense in Utah is called "careless driving," which is a moving violation and includes other behaviors of a distracted driver, such as eating, drinking, or smoking.


Texting while driving is banned for all ages of drivers in Oregon. (newscom)

The state of Washington bans the use of hand-held cellphones while driving.

Hands-free cellphone use is allowed. But enforcement of the hand-held ban in Washington was strengthened with a law that went into effect in June in which drivers can be pulled over if they are seen speaking on a hand-held device.

Pulling over the side of the road to make a call is also illegal.

Drivers under the age of 18 may not use any kind of mobile device while driving. Texting is also banned for all drivers.